Bulk milk test vital in tracing diseases
It's one of the cheapest and fastest methods on market
With substantial expansion of the national dairy herd already in train, dairy farmers are already hitting the disease challenges that increasing cow numbers inevitably poses.
The evidence shows that as herd sizes expand, the prevalence of diseases such as IBR, Johne's disease, BVD and Mortellaro have increased to the point where they are now widespread in Irish herds.
The challenges to maintaining biosecurity on Irish farms was largely compromised by the level of herd repopulations required in the wake of BSE and Brucellosis. Some of these diseases, such as Johne's, have long incubation periods and may have a serious impact on productivity, even at sub-clinical levels. In addition, all the much-championed emerging markets are becoming much more discerning on milk quality issues, especially zoonotic diseases that can affect humans.
The melamine scares in China ensured that milk quality is non-negotiable.
As a result, there has never been such an appetite for information concerning disease control at farm level.
One of the fastest and cheapest ways for dairy farmers to get a handle on the levels of disease in their herds and, in turn, the changes in this status over time is by using a bulk milk tank test. It isn't a silver bullet since, by its nature it is not animal specific.
Therefore, it can be slow to find some diseases, such as Johne's disease, and there is a risk that a negative result can give a false sense of security.
How does it work?