How to Control High Cell Counts in Your Herd

Michael-DOREHow to Control High Cell Counts in Your Herd

By Michael Dore, Dairy Hygiene Manager 

According to Teagasc, reducing SCC by 100,000 plus in a herd of 80 cows can gain you as much as €12,000 in farm income due to savings in associated mastitis costs per year. It is widely accepted that pre and post spraying is a vital management tool to achieve a significant reduction of your herd’s cell count.

The Virolac range includes pre & post teat sprays and dips such as Quick Spray RTU, Virolac Concentrate and Virolac Film. These products are all based on lactic salicylic acid technology (LSA®) developed by Grassland Agro’s sister company Hypred in Brittany, France.

LSA® is an active complex of hydroxyl-acids, combining AHA lactic acid and BHA salicylic acid. The combination of these natural organic acids ensures an extremely fast-acting, broad spectrum disinfectant.

LSA® is effective in 30 seconds on mastitis causing bacteria such as Staph. Aureus, Strep. Uberis, Strep. Agalactiae and E.Coli. It is also effective on yeasts, cowpox and cow herpes.

The lactic acid is effective against bacteria while the salicylic acid is effective against both bacteria and viruses.

A completely safe formulation, LSA® will not taint milk or irritate the skin. Both of the hydroxyl-acids are naturally occurring acids that work to condition the teat skin as both have emollient properties. Lactic acid is a humectant that softens the teat skin and the salicylic acid present in LSA® exfoliates the teat skin.

Hypred Quick Spray RTU

Quick Spray is a ready to use, high emollient teat spray combined with the breakthrough

LSA® disinfectant for pre & post spraying. It contains a complex emollient system including propylene glycol for excellent teat condition. This top quality teat spray is excellent for controlling SCC and Mastitis during peak milk production. The combined disinfectants in LSA® give reinforced, fast-acting effectiveness against bacteria that starts to work seconds after being applied.

Virolac Concentrate

This product is recommended by one of the biggest Co-ops in Ireland for controlling cell counts on problem farms. It is a versatile 4 to 1 concentrated pre & post teat spray combined with the breakthrough LSA® disinfectant for an all-round economical formulation.

Virolac Film Udder Dip

This is an advanced teat barrier technology product with the breakthrough LSA® disinfectant for the ultimate udder dip. It is ready to use (no mixing or dilution necessary). Virolac Film is designed with film-forming agents and cannot be used before milking. The combined disinfectants in LSA® give a reinforced, fast-acting effectiveness against bacteria that starts to work almost immediately.

Virolac Film is enriched with a complex emollient system, including Lanolin, Glycerol and Aloe Vera to ensure outstanding teat condition.

A rheology complex allows the formulation to cling to the teat for longer periods without dripping, thus optimising the disinfection and cosmetic action on the teat skin. Also a superb capillary action plugs the teat canal.

Thermoduric bacteria

Most bacteria present in raw milk are non- pathogenic and are readily destroyed by pasteurisation, however, “thermoduric bacteria” can remain active even after pasteurisation and consequently adversely impact on product quality by reducing shelf life and flavour content. Milk with 1,000 thermoduric bacteria/ml is not suitable for processing so it will be rejected by the Coop or Plc.

Sources of Thermoduric bacteria

Animal faeces, livestock bedding and soil contain large numbers of ‘micro spores’ particularly in dry and dusty conditions. These are the most important sources of thermoduric bacteria (Bacillus, lactobacillus and Clostridium) which survive as heat resistant spores.

Cows housed indoors are frequently in direct contact with contaminated bedding and therefore susceptible to infection. Equally, cows lying on outdoor pastures around dung paths are also at risk. Contamination occurs via the teat surface with these micro-organisms readily transferred to the milk during milking.

These bacteria will in turn contaminate the clusters, pipe lines and bulk tank. In hard water areas where limescale is a problem, contamination is more severe with the high alkaline harbouring the bacteria and contributing to a reservoir of bacteria if not properly or frequently removed. Also, biofilm formation on pipelines (which are often corroded or jagged lines) result in extensive bacterial growth if not frequently removed by proper hot washing of the milking equipment.

Controlling Thermoduric Bacteria in milk

The key here is to remove the contamination on the teat surface prior to cluster application. Firstly, thoroughly clean the teats pre milking with an approved teat conditioner such as Dermisan Plus, Hyprazur diary cloth cleaner or Virolac Concentrate.

The moisturising properties of these will not only clean the teat surface but also disinfect and kill all surface bacteria within 30 seconds. The teat disinfectant needs to be wiped off to achieve maximum kill on the teats.

Washing cow’s teats on its own will not remove the bacteria and may lead to further contamination due to the creation of a moist environment and mobilisation of surface contaminants from the teat to the milking cluster. Water can be a source of bacteria spread, so it must at all times conform to the highest quality.

Hygienic Milking Equipment

The next potential source of thermoduric bacteria build up is in the milking plant itself. The risk here can be eliminated by a rigid machine and bulk tank wash routine. This involves the correct use of daily detergent sterilisers and at least once weekly use of a quality descale/milkstone remover i.e. Unipred (50 % Phosphoric acid+ surfactants) at a rate of 1 litre/45 litres water. Circulate the solution for 7 minutes at 55°C discard the wash afterwards.

A daily hot wash of Hyproclor Ed @300mls/45litres water, re- use the solution in the evening wash. Alternatively, a cold high caustic based detergent such as Unisan liquid/Plus powder will give satisfactory plant cleaning @400mls/45 litres – liquid and 5grms powder/litre (5000ppm) respectively. It is now common practice to replace chlorine in the final rinse due to the risk of TCM residues with a paracetic acid based product i.e. Perfo Grif @60mls/100litres of water.

Milking Parlour Hygiene

The immediate environment around the parlour should always be clean and tidy to prevent lateral spread of faecal bacteria to dairy cows both entering and leaving the collecting yard. The yards and walkways should be washed down after each milking. The surrounds of the dairy should ideally be concreted to facilitate bulk milk collection and feed delivery.

Steps to maintain low Thermoduric bacteria levels in milk

  • Present clean cows for milkingPre- milking preparation, spray & clean
  • Change rubberware twice annually
  • Use cleaning products as recommended for machine & bulk tank
  • Use correct quantity for wash & rinse
  • Use hot water (75-80° C), check temperature regularly
  • Descale milk plant and bulk tank at least once weekly (twice if hard water)
  • Avoid storage of warm water (plate cooler) for machine cleaning