CellCheck - Introduction
CellCheck is the national mastitis control programme, coordinated and facilitated by Animal Health Ireland. It is being developed and delivered in partnership with industry bodies representing farmers, processors, service providers and government. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to mastitis control; we do, however, need to make sure that all the wheels run smoothly and in the same direction. This is where CellCheck has a role to play.
The objectives of CellCheck are:
- Setting goals
- Building awareness
- Establishing best practice
- Building capacity
- Evaluating change
The building blocks of the CellCheck programme include the CellCheck Farm Guidelines for Mastitis Control, the development of service provider training and farmer workshops.
As a farmer, why is mastitis control important to you?
Mastitis can result in significant losses on any farm-when prevalent, it can significantly reduce farm profits. Mastitis reduces milk yield and leads to poor quality milk. Together, these factors erode the milk income received by farmers and processors. In addition, antibiotic therapy used to overcome udder disease adds to dairy farmers’ costs and stress.
High somatic cell counts (SCC), an indicator of mastitis, have a major impact on the profitability of dairy farmers and dairy processors. A recent Teagasc study of the economic impact of mastitis on the profit of Irish dairy farms at five somatic cell counts (SCC) thresholds returned the following figures:
The study found that the average dairy farmer can improve net profitability by at least 1 cent per litre by improving mastitis control to reduce SCC to an achievable and sustainable level. This study will be extended this year in an attempt to quantify the cost of mastitis at the processor level.
The CellCheck programme is led by Finola McCoy, who joined the Teagasc research team in Moorepark in 2008, as the Mastitis research officer. Prior to taking on the role of Programme Manager for CellCheck, Finola co-ordinated and managed a major pilot study (Euromilk), evaluating a team-based approach to Mastitis control, and has collaborated on a range of other mastitis research projects.