If you read the previous article in this series, you already know that a milk meter can be a valuable tool in your armory, giving you detailed data about each cow’s milk production to support better decision-making on the farm. Just using the solution at face value – to compare quantity and quality of milk to historical norms – is valuable in itself, but there is more you can deduce from Afimilk’s MPC milk meter when you understand how to interpret the data.
As already discussed, a drop in yield or quality that is not related to the usual variations inherent in the lactation cycle is a sure sign that there is a problem. But how can you know which problem is afflicting an under-productive cow when there are a host of diseases which commonly afflict dairy cows impacting their milk volume and quality. When such diseases strike, as they do all too often, you need to detect and remedy them as fast as possible to avoid too much loss of productivity.
In this article, we deep-dive into the MPC data to show you how it can be used for the early detection of some of the most pervasive health problems on the dairy farm.
This is one of the most common and devastating illnesses on the farm. Pus from infected udders can contaminate an entire milk tank and an untreated cow with mastitis can become non-producing and could even miscarry. The best way to stop the devastating effects of mastitis is to detect the disease as early as possible and take immediate steps to treat it.
In the old days, mastitis was detected by the presence of flock deposits in the milk, or by a change in milk color or odor. But on a large dairy farm, this is not an efficient or fast way to spot the disease. Enter the milk meter!
A cow with mastitis displays predictable changes in their milk that allow farmers to deduce with great accuracy that they are suffering from mastitis. First, they will produce less milk and second, their milk will also show an increase in conductivity. These changes together are a reliable indication that the cow has mastitis. Because Afimilk’s MPC measures and records these metrics at each milking, the system can instantly spot symptomatic cows and list them (within Afifarm) as suspected of having mastitis. You can pull up this list from Afifarm and immediately treat the sick cows.
Digestive issues/ diarrhea
Digestive issues are a regular occurrence on dairy farms and are often caused by factors that are easy to fix once the cause is known. Examples are problems with the feed, a health issue, or a stressor in the barn such as overcrowding or too much heat.
A cow with diarrhea loses water, salt, and minerals in its stool. Afimilk’s MPC will pick this up as a decrease in milk conductivity. When milk conductivity decreases alongside milk yield, this is a sure sign of a digestive problem and the Afifarm software will display these cows on a list of animals afflicted with digestive issues. As with mastitis, when you know a cow has a digestive problem you can treat them early and prevent further damage to the milk supply.
Fresh cows to check
Fresh cows are the most sensitive population on the farm and are highly vulnerable to sickness and infection. Fresh cow diseases, like metritis, can cost farms serious amounts of money if not detected promptly. When the milk meter picks up that a fresh cow’s yield has dropped but she is neither on the mastitis report or the digestive issues report, you will know that you need to investigate this cow further.
Non-specific health issues
When a cow’s yield drops but there is no accompanying loss of milk conductivity, Afifarm displays them on a “non-specific health problems” report. The lowered yield is a sure sign that there is a problem but you will need to investigate further to find out the cause.
No doubling up!
A smart feature embedded in Afifarm is that a cow that appears on one report will not appear on another. For example, a cow with suspected mastitis will appear on the mastitis list only and not also on the non-specific health disorder list. This feature ensures that you receive a very accurate indication of the specific health disorder the cow is facing and don’t have to waste time on undue detective work.
Time for a milk meter?
The more sophisticated milk meters on the market can do so much more than record the volume of milk produced – they can provide a highly reliable snapshot into the state of health of each cow. As this article shows, there is much valuable information that can be learned from the volume and quantity of a cow’s milk. Don’t miss out on reaping the benefits of this data which can help you keep your herd as healthy and productive as possible.