A Broughshane dairy farmer has not used an antibiotic to treat mastitis since last October. Real time information on milk production and quality, courtesy of two milking robots, is helping Broughshane dairy farmer Allister McCullough to identify problems associated with high cell count and mastitis at a very early stage.
Moreover, this information is also allowing him to deal with these problems using a new treatment approach that does not require the use of antibiotics.
“I have long recognised that a cow has the ability to effectively deal with mastitis and high cell counts courtesy of her own immune system,” Allister explained.
“The good news is that the AHV product range is making this a reality. I was introduced to the company’s boluses last autumn. And I am happy to confirm that I have not used a milk tube or antibiotic injection to treat any high cell count or mastitis related problems that have cropped up since then.”
He added: “Another tremendous bonus of this treatment approach is the fact that there is absolutely no milk withdrawal issues associated with the products. I have also used the AHV anti-inflammatory drench, Aspi, which has proven to be more than effective.”
Allister milks with his father William John. Their 120-strong Rocavan Holstein herd is currently averaging 9,500l with excellent butterfat and proteins. The milking robots were installed 6½ years ago.
The man responsible for introducing the McCulloughs to the AHV range was the company’s sales manager for counties Antrim and Down, Paul Marrs. He was a recent visitor to the McCullough farm.
“Antimicrobial resistance is not a new phenomenon. Microorganisms, including bacteria, have been dealing with this issue almost since the beginning of time,” Paul explained.
“Fortunately, modern scientific research has succeeded in identifying how nature has successfully dealt with this problem.
“AHV was established to convert this science into practical solutions for livestock farmers, who are having to deal with the disease-related impact of pathogenic bacterial infections on a regular basis.”
He continued: “We know that bacteria must gather together in large groups in order to impact on the host animal. To make this happen they must communicate with each other through a process called ‘quorum sensing’. In essence, individual bacteria emit signal molecules so as to make this grouping process come about.
“In response, AHV products have been developed to disrupt this communication process, thereby abolishing the impact that pathogenic bacteria could have when entering a host animal.
“We also know that the attacking pathogenic bacteria produce biofilm around their cells, which acts as a protective shield to protect them from the animal’s own immune cells and from antibiotics. The AHV product range breaks down these biofilm layers and supports the cow’s natural immune system: because of this combined activity, invading pathogenic bacteria are more predisposed to attack by the animal’s immune system.
“The end result is a process that directly impacts on the ability of pathogenic bacteria to cause disease without a reliance on antibiotics.”
AHV International’s headquarters for the UK and Ireland is located at Augher in County Tyrone. Adam Robinson is the managing director of the new business. He accompanied Paul during his visit to the McCullough farm.
Adam explained: “The company’s track record in the Netherlands and a host of other countries around the world confirms the efficacy of the AHV product range.
“Farmers are fully aware of the need to reduce their reliance on antibiotics. The challenge of anti-microbial resistance is now a key priority for health professionals, veterinarians and the public at large, given the recent emergence of pathogens that are becoming resistant to almost every antibiotic that is currently available.”
The AHV product range consists of a mix of boluses, drenches and calf powders. They comprise a combination of natural feed supplements. The treatments act specifically to restore the normal bacterial population balance in those parts of the host’s body that have become subject to pathogenic attack.
Adam further explained: “Where dairy cattle are concerned, our products can be used in cases where high cell counts constitute a real challenge. As well as dealing with issues in the udder, they can also be used for problems in the lungs, uterus and calf’s digestive system.”
Allister McCullough confirmed that he is able to track the impact of the administered AHV boluses, courtesy of the milk quality information generated by the robots.
“I have seen a consistent trend in cell count reduction after the boluses have been administered,” he stressed.
“The figures don’t lie. I am also seeing a consistent improvement in feed intakes and minimal reductions in milk output soon after the boluses have been used.”
He concluded: “The growing challenge of antibiotic resistance is one that must be addressed by the dairy industry head-on. The use of the AHV product range can play a proactive role in allowing milk producers to deal with this problem successfully.”