User Code:

Password:
Read latest news
Events page
Data download
03330 043 043

Dairy herd survey shows proportion of healthy cows in herds is on the increase

Published March 6th 2017

The latest key performance indicator (KPI) report of a cross section of 500 NMR-recorded herds shows a significant reduction in the proportion of herds keeping high numbers of cows with chronic somatic cell counts (SCC). Published by the University of Reading, the annual report is now in its seventh year.

“A chronic herd is one with more than 15% of milk samples originating from chronic cows – that is cows with two or more consecutive SCC recordings above 200,000 cells/ml,” says report co-author James Hanks. “Our latest report, for the year ending August 2016, shows that 18% of the 500-herd sample were chronic herds. This was 40% in 2010.” 

Even more encouraging is the trend in herds keeping 10% or fewer chronic cows. “This is now at 51%, double the number of herds with low chronic cow levels than in 2010. Low levels of chronic cows are strongly linked to low herd somatic cell counts, so this trend is very good news,” he adds. 

The 2016 report shows that the median, or mid-point, SCC for the surveyed herds is now 185,000 cells/ml, down from 210,000 cells/ml in 2010. The top 25% of herds now average 153,000 cells/ml.

New mastitis benchmarks included in this latest report show that the median number of cases of mastitis was 36 per 100 cows in 2015/16 – that’s at least 15 cases more than the top 25% of herds. 

The report also shows improvements in fertility across the 500-herd sample, with more cows served by day 80 and a higher proportion of cows pregnant by 100 days. 
“These parameters contribute to the drop in calving interval to 407 days, during the past 12 months, with the top 25% of herds now achieving calving intervals of 393 days or less,” says Dr Hanks. 

Data from the KPI report are used by producers, advisers and vets to benchmark individual herd performance for key parameters against that of the 500 study herds as part of NMR’s InterHerd+ dairy management program. Targets are based on the levels achieved by the top 25% of herds for each parameter and provide realistic and achievable goals for the industry. 

A study of herd performance in 500 Holstein/Friesian herds for the year ending August 31, 2016, by James Hanks & Mohamad Kossaibati, can be downloaded from www.nmr.co.uk/kpi_study_2016.

Table 1.  Comparison of median and target values derived from the study of 500 NMR recording herds in 2016 with the original study in 2010
 
Parameter  Median Median   Target
“Best 25%”
Target
“Best 25%”
                                                                    Year of the Study 2010 2016   2010 2016
A. Culling rate 24% 27%   18% 22%
B. Culling / death rate in first 100 days of lactation 7% 5%   4% 4%
C. Age at exit (years) 6.6 6.1   7.4 6.9
D. Age at exit by lactations 3.9 3.6   4.5 4.2
E. Percentage Served by day 80 46% 56%   59% 68%
F. Percentage conceived 100 days after calving 26% 33%   33% 41%
G. Calving to 1st service interval (days) 105 82   87 71
H. Calving interval (days) 424 407   409 393
I. Age at 1st calving (years) 2.4 2.3   2.3 2.2
J. Conception rate 32% 34%   40% 40%
K. Percentage service intervals at 18-24 days 30% 35%   38% 41%
L. Percentage service intervals >50 days 32% 24%   22% 16%
M. Percentage eligible for service that served 27% 38%   37% 49%
N. Percentage eligible for service that conceived 9% 13%   13% 17%
O. Lifetime milk / cow / day (kg) 10.5 12.2   12.6 14.1
P. Milk / cow / year (kg) 7,665 8,291   8,760 9,471
Q. Average protein% 3.27% 3.26%   3.33% 3.35%
R. Average fat% 3.96% 4.03%   4.12% 4.18%
V. Average SCC (‘000 cells/ml) 210 185   169 153
W. Percentage SCC >=200,000 cells/ml 24% 19%   19% 16%
X. Percentage SCC >500,000 cells/ml 9% 7%   7% 6%
Y. Percentage 1st recording SCC >=200,000 cells/ml 20% 17%   15% 13%
Z. Percentage chronic SCC >=200,000 cells/ml 14% 10%   10% 8%
ZA. Percentage Dry period cure (High:Low) 74% 75%   80% 83%
ZB. Percentage Dry period protection (Low:Low) 84% 85%   89% 90%
ZC. Percentage Low at end of previous lactation  (SCC<200,000 cells/ml) 60% 69%   70% 78%