Speaking of milking parlors…
A recent visit to Sweden turned up some amazing stories of producers who are using the Herd Navigator system from DeLaval to spot health problems early. (Herd Navigator will be introduced in the United States in the near future.)
The Herd Navigator system allows Swedish producer Patrik Boner to access the risk that certain animals have for mastitis, ketosis and other health problems.
For instance, the amount of BHB or beta-hydroxybutyrate showing up in milk samples is indicative of ketosis risk. If a cow shows elevated levels, putting her at high risk, Boner can treat her with propylene glycol. Similarly, if the samples show high levels of an enzyme known as LDH or lactate dehydrogenase, it is indicative of increased risk for mastitis. He can give those cows more “permissions” to stop at one of the robotic milking stations as a way to treat mastitis with more frequent milkout.
Herd Navigator can work with both robotic milking stations and conventional milking parlors.
At another company where the emphasis has been on robotic milking stations, the Lely Astronaut has sensors for conductivity, milk temperature and a host of other factors.
For instance, if there is low activity, high milk temperature and deviation in conductivity, the cow may have an udder infection. If the fat/protein ratio is higher than 1.5 — for instance, 3 percent protein and 4 percent fat — it could be ketosis or acidosis. High activity and lower-than-normal rumination may simply mean the cow is in heat.
The Lely Astronaut reads activity and rumination tags, combining that information with its own sensors.
Lab in a box
One of the new products to roll out at World Dairy Expo this year was the QScout MLD (milk leukocyte differential) Test.
In about three minutes, QScout MLD, which works with the QScout Farm Lab, will give you leukocyte (or white blood cell) counts from quarter milk samples.
But it’s not just the raw cell count; it’s the differential or percentage of each kind of white blood cell in each of the quarters that provides important clues. QScout interprets this information and gives the producer a color-coded report:
Red = infected, green = clean or uninfected.
“It’s all about earlier, more accurate identification of subclinical mastitis,” says Joy Parr-Drach, president of Advanced Animal Diagnostics.