John, who farms near the village of Athlacca, is the owner of the highly renowned Rosstemple herd of pedigree Holsteins, working closely with his father Seán and mother Eileen.
“The herd comprises 100 cows. Seventy-five per cent of the milking group calve in the spring with the remainder in the autumn.
“Milk output is currently averaging 8,000l with butterfat and protein averaging 4.1% and 3.4% respectively.
“A key driver for the business is to get as much milk from grass as possible and into the bulk tank, whilst maintaining good milk quality. The plan is to keep numbers where they are and to sell heifers and young cows on a regular basis. Over recent times, we have hosted a private sale of stock on farm on a three-yearly basis.
Maintaining cell counts below 100 is of utmost priority
“Improving milk quality will deliver a price bonus for the business,” he stressed. “Where cell count is concerned, we are currently receiving a bonus of half a cent per litre from Kerry Co-op. We milk record, which allows the identification of high cell count cows at an early stage. And, obviously, we will get the odd case of clinical mastitis.
It is now encouraging that there is another method of preparing cows before drying off
“I am very conscious of the need for the dairy industry to tackle the challenge of antimicrobial resistance, requiring individual milk producers to significantly reduce the amount of antibiotics used on farms and this has been reiterated in the drying off period.”
John adds: “This is no longer a hypothetical discussion. Major changes are coming in the way that dry cow tubes can be used after 1 January 2022, impacting every dairy farm in the country. It is now encouraging that there is another method of preparing cows before drying off and reducing antibiotic usage at this period.”
AHV’s Tom O’Dwyer explains: “In a spring-calving herd, next year’s lactation starts now. What we mean by this is to prepare the cow’s udder now by administering the AHV Extra Tablet one month to six weeks prior to drying off.
“This will allow enough time to cleanse the udder tissue before she is due to be dried off. By taking this approach, you are also preserving the good microorganisms already present in the udder, which is vital for a healthy udder. This prepares the cow for next year’s lactation and supports her natural resistance.”
No milk eithdrawal or milk taint with AHV Solutions
John first became aware of AHV, courtesy of a press article on his fellow pedigree breeder John Dillon, who farms near Listowel in Co. Kerry, commenting:
“I used the first batch of AHV Extra Tablets on a group of four cows with clinical mastitis and animals with a hard quarter also received the AHV Aspi drench, to reduce inflammation. The cows responded in a very positive way almost immediately.
It’s an approach that works tremendously well
“As there is no milk withdrawal the treatments are cost effective, considering the cost of using tubes, possibly an injectable antibiotic, an injectable anti-inflammatory and the huge loss of the milk that must be kept out of the bulk tank during the withdrawal period.”
John continued: “I then used the Extra tablets to target cows with high cell count problems. It’s an approach that works tremendously well with the vast majority of animals but not so well with older animals that have a history of cell count issues and are ultimately chronic cases.”
Using the AHV product range represents a new management approach for John. However, he is quick to highlight the tremendous advisory support that has been made available to him by the members of the AHV team.
“These are all new products to me. And it takes time to get used to how they work, where they will work best and where they will struggle – chronic cows. What I have experienced is in line with the guidance I received from the AHV consultants.
I am pleased to say it does work
“This is a very different approach to what I have been used to in the past, but when used correctly, I am pleased to say it does work. I am very impressed with the anti-inflammatory, Aspi. The product works tremendously well in reducing inflammation in hard udders.”
John confirmed that he has seen a dramatic reduction in the amount of antibiotics used on the herd. He commented:
“If antibiotic-contaminated milk gets into the bulk tank, the farmer responsible will pay for the entire tanker load that reaches the dairy. This is real money and can happen easily.”
AHV’s Tom O’Dwyer was a recent visitor to Rosstemple Holsteins. He said: “The results that John has achieved are being replicated on many dairy farms throughout Ireland and abroad, particularly so within those that milk record on a regular basis.”
Tom added: “The monthly milk recording reports will help identify problem cows whereby the option of using an AHV Extra Tablet presents itself. Additionally, farmers using robotic milking systems or producers with conductivity meters included within a traditional milking parlour set-up can get individual information on a real-time basis.