LOCKDOWN has meant different things to different people and for some it has meant anopportu nity to take a fresh look at life and bu siness. Llandeilo based vet, Dr Sotirios Karvou ntzis of Mend ip Vets, (p ictured right), said life became bu sier, bu t the banon preventative visits gave him time to review and research ongoing problems.
Dairy farmers su bmit produ ction, clinical and other data to variou s specialised websites as part of their milk contract. Lockdownmeant that, inthe downtime betweencall ou ts, Sotirios had the chance to stu dy the data and pu rsu e his interest ineradicating ‘hidden costs’.
He analysed farm performance, while reviewing their su bmitted data. It meant he was able to establish commonthemes and to come u p with some answers to the ‘hiddencosts’ borne by so many herds.
He explained: “I wanted to help clients get ontop of their hiddencosts. They canbe whencows calve, how many retaintheir foetal membranes. Whenthe cows calve, how many cows get ketosis ‐ a type of diabetes that cows get whenthey calve, so making su gar
u navailable for the first few weeks before they get over it. Thenhow many cows they get with mastitis.
“Is the herd at risk of infectiou s disease, su ch as IBR, BVD, Leptospirosis, Liver Flu ke and Neospora? Or even, is the offspring robu st enou gh, what is the incidence of mastitis, lameness or tu bercu losis betweenvariou s genetic lines onthe farm?
“So let’s say they’re getting 5% of their cows with retained foetal membranes, or they get 4% of their cows with ketosis, or 35% mastitis. If we manage to redu ce that by 2% with retained foetal membranes, half of it almost, there’s instantly a minimu m £2,000 a year saving ina 300/400 cow herd.
“If you go to mastitis and you d rop it from 35% d own to 20%, it still sou nds a lot bu t it’s a massive improvement and you ’re looking at anapproximate £12,000 a year saving for the same 300/400 cow herd.”
And becau se the variou s conditions, foetal membrane retention, ketosis, mastitis, have a defined nu mber of
cau ses, we canmake a start inou r investigation. Some of the commonest cau ses canbe anincorrect transition d iet, milk fever after calving or, inth e case of mastitis, we start with th e milking parlou r, th enth e milking
rou tine or th e environment.
Sotirios added: “I don’t want to over simplify a complex situ ation, bu t u su ally there are a nu mber of areas that, if you ru le them ou t, theninmy experience there is a good chance of redu cing the problem.
“So the extra time du ring Lockdownallowed me to
u se it prod u ctively. I appraised performance, looked at hiddencosts and thenstarted discu ssions over the phone or teleconference. It’s incredible how the teleconferencing technology has come su ch a long way.
“I had discu ssions with clients and showed graphs to say where we are and why we are there, giving a few possible reasons. ThenI su ggested visiting the farms and taking a closer look at those once restrictions were eased .
“The redu ctioninthe time that milking takes can have wide reaching consequ ences, inclu ding a
redu ctioninthe incidence of lameness. This shou ld be cou pled with helping them select the most su itable
bu lls that combine the most appropriate produ ction, management and type traits with the likelihood of redu cing lameness and overall disease intheir offspring.
“It canalso meanhaving a conversationwith the owners abou t monitoring infectiou s and parasitic disease inthe herd, throu gh ordering appropriate bu lk tank milk samples, all by the click of a bu ttonand withou t u s having to visit the farm initially.
“All these hiddencosts canbe there and the farmer aware of them. Bu t really you don’t know where to start u nless you have the d ata and the research.”
Sotirios says the savings meanthat su ddenly there is thenmoney released for other investment onthe farm. A simple backing gate, for instance, the gate that gently pu shes cows towards the parlou r frees u p time for the milker.