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Milk Quality

At Owl Farm we have a goal of achieving Fonterra Co-operative Difference Te Tihi level with 90% of all milk achieving excellence quality in the 2021/22 season along with achievement in all other areas of the co-operative difference.

We received Level 1 milk quality in 2020-21 season with 3 months meeting the criteria, and achieved all other areas of the co-operative difference.

Owl Farm received 3 Alerts, 3 Grades and 6 Demerit points for the season, compared to the 2019/20 season when we received 20 Alerts, 7 Grades and 8 Demerits.  This demonstrates the continued focus on improved milk quality through effective teat spraying, early identification of infection, and an aggressive approach to culling repeat offenders prior to changing milking frequencies.

On Owl Farm cows receive a Rapid Mastitis Test (RMT) before leaving the colostrum mob to join the main herd and are teat sprayed every milking all year round.

Milking machine testing and plant hygiene checks are carried out at the start of each season.  Rubberware is changed twice per season and plant wash follows strict procedures.

At the end of the season we follow the SmartSAMM plan for dry cow therapy and teatseal use.

Somatic Cell Count

A somatic cell count (SCC) is a cell count of somatic cells in milk. In dairying, the SCC is an indicator of milk quality—specifically, its low likelihood of containing harmful bacteria and thus its high food safety. 

Somatic cells can always be found in milk, even if only in small numbers. They are mainly white blood cells (leukocytes) sent to fight infection in the udder and also include a small number of damaged udder cells.

The milk from cows that have mastitis therefore contains more somatic cells. Mastitis can be either sub-clinical or clinical.

Using herd test data, cows with high SCC counts and repeat mastitis cases are removed from the herd prior to transitioning to three milkings in two days after Christmas.  This has reduced the SCC through the latter half of the season.

Monthly average SCC comparison between years

Fat Evaluation Index (FEI)

Using strategic feed planning in the 2020-21 season we were able to maintain FEI levels below the threshold with approximately 2-2.5 kg PKE/cow/day maximum being fed.