Mr. Alan Kerr
Low Dallars Farm, Kilmarnoch
Alan Kerr has certainly seen a swift and welcome return on the £8,500 investment he made in an automatic cluster flushing system. It's just five months since he installed the Greenoak AirWash system in his 20:20 herringbone parlour, in a bid to get on top of a growing – and costly somatic cell count problem. He says he's seeing huge benefits.
“I'd go as far as to say that I think that the system will have paid for itself within a year. And I'd certainly recommend automatic cluster flushing to anyone who has a problem with mastitis and SCCs,” he says.
He set up his 200-cow herd – an amalgamation of two pedigree herds on a newly built unit at Hurlsford in September 2008. “And at that time SCC was running at between 280,000 cells/ml and 300,000 cells/ml. Not good, but not too bad considering the stress that the cows were under due to being moved and mixed together,” he says.
But the alarm bells began to sound when, instead of settling down, the count continued to rise and by December it was well above 500,000 cells/ml.
“It was just going up and up before my eyes and, despite my best efforts, I just couldn't seem to get a handle on it. And we were dealing with 10 cases of mastitis or more at any one time.
“Udder health aside, it was starting to impact on the milk cheque too. We supply milk to the Caledonian Cheese Company and the penalties for failing to make the top band on milk hygiene were starting to hurt,” says Alan.
He thought that washing each cluster after each cow would help considerably, but he also knew that it wouldn't be practical to add it to the already stretched milking routine. So he was excited when he saw the AirWash system in action at AgriScot 2008 where in fact the system achieved first prize fir the most innovative product.
“And even more so when I discovered that it was affordable and I could also add it to my parlour.”
The manufacturer says that the system is compatable with all parlours, even those without ACRs. It took about a day and a half to fit the system to Alan's parlour – with two men working between milkings. And he says that not only is it relatively maintenance free but it's also inexpensive to run.
“I've only used 15 litres of paracetic acid since it was installed. The dose rate is extremely low, but it does the job.”
Today's figures say it all. His herd's somatic cell count stands at 220,000 cells/ml and it's still falling. “And we only get the odd case of mastitis now – it's certainly not the norm anymore,” he adds.