Modern Irish farming is progressing with the introduction of automated machines, specialised testing and new technology. Farmers are now entering an era of ‘precision agriculture’. Using data to enhance the quality of a herd can be very effective, especially for dairy farmers. By collecting milk yield and quality results dairy farmers have an opportunity to invest in the long-term profitability of their herds, through milk recording.
The ICBF coordinates the Irish milk recording service. There are two type of services available:
The Recorder Service
The Electronic DIY Service
Animal Health Ireland recommends that milk recording should be carried out a minimum of four times over the milking season. Recordings should be spaced out evenly and farmers should discuss the best recording service and timings with their adviser.
According to Teagasc, if milk was recorded on a continual basis, data could be used to predict methane emissions and dry cow tube requirements. However, farmers should be aware of the benefits that directly apply to them.
What are these benefits
Milk recording is considered a valuable source of information. After all year-round teat disinfection, milk recording is the next most important tool in dealing with high somatic cell count (SCC) and mastitis. Results can identify repeat offenders and effective management of this could dramatically decrease the overall SCC for the herd and improve milk price.
Another benefit is that it allows the farmer to track their best and worst producing cows. This allows the farmer to make management decisions, help with the culling process and determine which cows would be more suitable for breeding replacements.
After each reading the farmer receives a CellCheck Farm Summary Report. This details areas of excellence, i.e mastitis control, but it also gives details of areas for improvement. From this report, the farmer can see what can be gained financially from preventing infection.
Milk recording can add significant value to any surplus breeding stock being sold off farm. It can also increase the chance of a bull calf being selected to enter AI through the Gene Ireland programme.
For those who milk record, access will be given to a tool known as ‘Cows Own Worth’ or COW. This ranks cows on their expected profit potential for their lifetime.
Having milk recording records can also increase the compensation available for animals that have to be culled because of a positive TB reaction.
For those subscribed to Herdplus on the farming app, Herdwatch, recording results will automatically get updated onto your account. This allows farmers to easily manage their herd.
To find out more about Herwatch and it’s Herdplus features, go to https://herdwatch.ie/.