Attention to detail is the catch phrase for award winning dairy manager, Jim Petrie, of Mackie’s Westertown, Rothienorman.
The milking heard is housed in a free-choice robotic milking system where the every need of the 350 cows is catered for an attended to. They are supplied with a diet balanced precisely to meet their requirements, and even choose when to visit the milking robot.
Because the herd is housed all year round, it is important for the cows to be comfortable and clean as happy cows are productive cows. This level of control of the cow’s environment doesn’t happen by chance.
“We are very fussy about the way we look after our cows”, says Jim. “Doing things right and keeping up a good routine makes all the difference”.
One simple example at Westertown is providing a clean and comfortable cow bed.
“We freshen up each cubical every single day and have a complete clean twice a week, every Monday and Friday”, he says. “A handful of disinfectant powder is spread over the back half of the cubical and then clean sawdust added on top of the mattress for extra comfort”.
The powder used is Staldren which Mr Petrie says has worked a treat over the summer.
“We have haven’t had a case of mastitis for the past two months – although I don’t want to tempt fate!” he says.
“It is often said that for a medicine to be any good it must taste awful. Staldren is powerful stuff, but it is very pleasant to work with. In fact, the vets, who make a routine visit every week, commented on the better smell and how much less irritable the Staldren is. So it’s good for both the cows and the staff”.
Staldren is a Danish product, marketed in Scotland and Northern Ireland by Norvite. Technical manager, David McClelland, has been very impressed by its application in a variety of situations.
“It has been used on pig units in the UK for a number of years but the benefits are just as reliable in cattle systems, lambing pens and for equine bedding,” he points out. “Staldren is a very powerful disinfectant, tackling bacteria, fungo and binding ammonia. It is also a drying agent which improves bedding areas.”
Most disinfectants will do a similar hygienic job, but they tend to be caustic. Staldren is pH neutral, which is kinder to livestock, especially for sensitive areas like cows’ udders or young piglets.
“It does not clump, so it spreads easily and evenly across the treated area”, Mr McClelland explains. “One comment we often get is that Staldren has a very clinical smell. I’m not sure how important the smell is, but us is very pleasant to work with! The feedback from Jim has been very positive and he is passing it on to other stockmen, which is a great endorsement as he sets a very high standard.”