The team is also quick to identify the early signs of mastitis. Any cows with a swollen quarter are given non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and UdderMint and kept in the separate group. Following testing, cows will have their milk stripped two to six times a day to help remove infection. Any individuals that still have a hard quarter after two days receive a repeat treatment.
“I’ve found it’s a more effective way to treat them,” says Mr Gibbins. “I’m slightly cynical about how effective antibiotics are during lactation. I think cows do have quite a good self-cure rate.”
Mole Valley Feed Solutions’ Nutritionist, Dave Kittow regularly analyses fresh grass and grass silage and carefully balances the diet to optimise rumen health and performance. This also helps with dung consistency, which influences mastitis risk.
High levels of clover in grazing swards, combined with fresh grass growth and low fibre levels had traditionally created challenges with loose dung in the autumn. As a result, Mr Kittow suggested feeding organic X1 LIVE Yeast in the farm’s mineral pack, which also includes the correct levels of vitamin E and selenium to help the immune system and SCC.
Mr Gibbins adds: “From an environment point of view, the diet is probably the key thing in terms of keeping cows and cubicles clean. The yeast, along with other things, has helped the dung consistency and rumen health which all helps with forage utilisation and mastitis control.” He usually chooses to buy a combination of organic straights and compounds from Mole Valley Farmers, drawing on the advice of Alternative Feeds’ Trader, Francesca Metherell. “Her advice is excellent,” he says. “She’s very proactive in terms of advising when to buy. She contacts us if she thinks there’s any deals on. A few pounds saving on the amount we’re buying is very significant.” This year, he didn’t opt to buy his straights forward. As a result, Jonathan has been advised to feed an organic meal in the outside ration to complement the silage available. Mr Kittow explains: “Mole Valley Farmers buy well in advance to spread risk. Jonathan has benefitted from that this year, rather than relying on the very tricky spot market.”