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UK Dairy Herds Could Be Delivering Millions More

08 July 2013

UK - Dairy herds in the UK could be delivering as much as £302,000,000 a year more profit if they were treated for gutworms, according to research from Merial Animal Health.

The company has supported MOO (Milk Ostertagia Ostertagi) testing – a test which measures the level of antibodies to gutworms in the milk - to assess the level of challenge to grazing cattle.

Results have been collated for the years 2009 to 2012, to deliver a picture across the English counties as well as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

During the four years analysed, data was collected from 730 herds. The results show that there is a significant risk to production across the UK, with an average 90.91 per cent of herds tested proving to have a high level of gutworm challenge. If this percentage is translated to all cows in the UK, it equates to around 1,646,688 cows at risk.

Fiona MacGillivray, Merial Animal Health’s Veterinary Adviser, said: “This set of results should be of concern to all dairy farmers. It seems that most herds are exposed to a high gutworm challenge from pasture, and this means that they could be delivering more milk and more money. In adult cows it is uncommon to see obvious signs of gutworm infection, such as scouring, so farmers may not be aware of the problem and may not feel it is having any effect on their cows.

“However, there is clear evidence that this level of challenge has a detrimental effect on production in a number of critical areas. Research shows that gutworms can reduce milk yield by up to 2.2 litres per cow per day1. There is also some evidence that treating dairy cows against gutworms improves their fertility, reducing the calving to conception interval and improving conception rates 2.”

If a cow gives an extra 2.2 litres for every day of lactation (average 305 days each year), that’s an extra 671 litres per year. This equates to just over £188 additional income per cow per year at an average farmgate price for 2012 of just over £0.28 per litre, or, less the average cost of treatment, £183.80 additional profit per cow per year and that’s not accounting for any fertility benefits.

Fiona says: “Producers should really consider treating their dairy cows at grass to make sure they are maximising the nutrient benefit from their cheapest source of feed, namely grass. Cows treated for gutworms have been shown to eat more and are less likely to lose condition, meaning milk production and fertility are less likely to be compromised.”

The attached map uses the recorded number of cows per county in England and by country for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland ; the additional 671 litres milk that a treated cow can produce; sold at an average price of £0.28 per litre; less the average cost of treatment with Eprinex® to show how much more each area could have delivered were cows to have been treated against gutworms.

The whole of England could have delivered an extra profit of just over £179 million, while Wales would have generated over £38 million, Scotland £32 million and Northern Ireland over £52 million.

Eprinex® has a zero milk withhold, providing the ability to treat cows at any stage of lactation without the worry of lost milk sales. Eprinex® is also the zero milk withhold wormer that has been proven with more than a decade of successful use by dairy farmers.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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