Applying new solutions to old problems
What do you do when your SCC is over 400,000, even though you run a spotless operation? One Kilkenny farmer has found a solution using smartphone technology
When you arrive in Joe Cody's farmyard just outside Kilmanagh on the Kilkenny-Tipperary border, you know that this is a farmer that takes pride in his operation. Neat flower pots, everything in its place - not exactly the place that you'd expect a herd of cows struggling to cope with high somatic cell counts (SCC).
And until six or seven years ago, it wasn't a problem for the Cody's either. Along with his dad (also Joe), they milked about 70 cows that were all bred to a beef bull, while heifer replacements were bought in.
However, over the course of a year, the SCCs started to fluctuate to the point where they were regularly hitting 400-500,000 - penalty territory that no dairy farmer wants to be.
Joe knew he had a problem - the question was what was it and, more importantly, how could it be fixed.
None of the cows were showing up clots in the milk, nor was there any tell-tale signs in the milk sock. In fact, every cow was stripped before the cups went on, morning and night.
So Joe's instinct was that there was a problem with stray current in the milking parlour, which had only been installed in 2007.
"I got the installer out to look at it probably three times, but every time he drew a blank. He was getting frustrated and, if I'm honest, I was beginning to doubt him," Joe admits.
"I was also doing DIY milk recording, and when the results would come back, there might be a few cows that were high in cell count that we'd pull out of the tank and treat. We'd do a California Milk Test and everything would be fine for a few months, and then we'd find that she was testing high again."