Mastitis control up for discussion at meeting

Veterinary surgeon Norman Beggs (left) guest speaker at Fermanagh Grassland Club chatting with members (from left) Irwin Little, Newtownbutler; Alan Burleigh, Lisnaskea; Neil Browne, Macken and Kerrie Coulter, Teemore.
Veterinary surgeon Norman Beggs (left) guest speaker at Fermanagh Grassland Club chatting with members (from left) Irwin Little, Newtownbutler; Alan Burleigh, Lisnaskea; Neil Browne, Macken and Kerrie Coulter, Teemore.

A specialised talk on mastitis control in dairy cows was well received at the October meeting of Fermanagh Grassland Club.

The speaker at the meeting in the Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen, was Norman Beggs, who has worked in veterinary practices in Northern Ireland and Wales before joining the veterinary laboratory in Omagh in 2002 where he carried out post-mortem examinations, interpreted the results of blood and milk samples and investigated herds with high levels of mastitis.

Veterinary surgeon Norman Beggs (right) guest speaker at Fermanagh Grassland Club, with William Johnston (left) club secretary and Michael McCaughey, chairman.

Veterinary surgeon Norman Beggs (right) guest speaker at Fermanagh Grassland Club, with William Johnston (left) club secretary and Michael McCaughey, chairman.

In 2015 he set up Udder Health Solutions Ltd providing evidence based, farm-specific udder health plans for dairy herds.

He explained to farmers attending that he has been greatly influenced by three specialists, Professor Andrew Bradley, Professor Martin Green and Dr. James Breen who form a mastitis control panel.

He explained that he carries out analysis of milk recording with key performance indicators.

In the course of his presentation, he explained how he works for dairy farmers, looking at drying off dates, calving dates and service dates of cows over the previous 24 months and also looks at milking machine service records. He uses a Dynamic Milking Machine testing procedure which provides results on how adjustments might need to be made.

Members of Fermanagh Grassland Club, at the first meeting of their winter programme.

Members of Fermanagh Grassland Club, at the first meeting of their winter programme.

He also uses software programmes which facilitates him to arrive at solutions to many problems faced by dairy farmers.

Norman described mastitis like icebergs - you can see many cases but the majority of the problem lies in other areas which can be assessed from milk production records.

He described some of the practical tips to reduce mastitis such as renewing liners before their “sell by date” and performing milking machine tests to ensure the correct vacuum levels.

Farmers could save considerable amounts by implementing a few changes.

He said farmers could see big improvements in mastitis control by incremental improvements.

Practically, Mr Beggs said the calving box was one of the most important places to improve hygiene, ensuring it should be so dry that farmers could kneel on the straw without getting wet.

Concluding he said: “Mastitis is a management control disease.”