New CostCheck calculator brings Mastitis control within grasp

The Cost Check calculator to estimate the cost of Somatic Cell Count on your dairy farm was launched at the recent Teagasc National Dairy Conference.

As SCC increases, farm costs increase, farm receipts decrease, and net farm profit decreases.

Reducing SCC significantly reduces associated losses and increases dairy farm profitability.

The Cost Check calculator is available on the Teagasc and Animal Health Ireland websites.

Mastitis is one of the most costly dairy cattle diseases, but losses associated with it are often underestimated on farms, because much of these losses are unseen — like reduced milk production and lower herd growth potential.

The objective of the CostCheck calculator is to allow each dairy farmer estimate the cost of mastitis on his/her dairy farm, using a computer and their own data.

This tool was developed by Teagasc Moorepark in consultation with the CellCheck Technical Working Group and was funded through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Research Stimulus Fund.

It is a user-friendly Microsoft Excel-based tool.

The first screen the user will see gives a choice of using either the Quick CostCheck calculator or the Complete CostCheck calculator.

For the ‘Quick’ calculator, the only data required is the number of cows milking and the annual average SCC category of the farm (as reported in your milk statement). The calculator then returns an estimate of the reduction in net farm profit due to mastitis on your dairy farm.

The ‘Complete’ calculator allows farm specific analysis. The user will see a screen where numerous inputs are required — average milk production per lactation per cow; number of cows and heifers currently milking; current SCC category of the dairy farm and target SCC category.

Using research findings at Teagasc Moorepark, the calculator works out the milk production loss.

Next, the number of cases treated in the herd and the number of cows culled due to mastitis (both current and target) are pre-populated or inputted.

There is also an opportunity to include how many — if any — cows died due to mastitis in the current lactation, and any penalties incurred in the current lactation due to SCC exceeding 400,000 cells/ml.

The calculator assumes milk sales net margin at 21 cent per litre, based on a milk price of 27 cent per litre less 6 cent for milk related production costs. This can be modified if the user requires.

Treatment costs and volume of milk withheld come next, with the calculator assuming values based on a survey of commercial dairy farmers — or modified by the user.

The same applies to cull cow value and heifer replacement costs.

The calculator provides both summary and detailed results. The summary result estimates the net farm profit gain from reducing SCC to a target level.

The detailed breakdown tells you how milk production is affected, and the cost of this, and works out costs such as treatment, culling, and other costs such as replacing cows that die due to mastitis, or milk price penalties at the co-op.

The mastitis CostCheck calculator is available at: www.agresearch.teagasc.ie/moorepark/docs/costcheck.xls and www.animalhealthireland.ie/page.php?id=29 web pages.

* The article, above, is taken from ‘Mastitis: What is it costing you?’ by Una Geary, Laurence Shalloo and George Ramsbottom, who are based at the Livestock Systems Research Dept, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc, Moorepark, Fermoy, Cork.


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