Great Return on Investment for Dairy Farmers in 2013:

Munster Dairy Cows Could Each Be Delivering over €200* More

Munster’s Dairy herds could be delivering as much as €106m a year more (see map) if they were treated for gutworms, according to research from Merial Animal Health. The company has supported MOO testing – a test which measures the level of antibodies to gutworms in the milk - to assess the level of challenge to cattle. Results have been collated for the years 2009 to 2011, to deliver a county-by-county picture.


During the three years analysed, data was collected from 810 herds.  The results show that there is a significant risk to production across Ireland, with an average of 87.16% of herds tested proving to have a high level of gutworm challenge. If this percentage is translated to all cows in Ireland it equates to around 826,000 cows at risk.
Fiona MacGillivray, Merial Animal Health’s Veterinary Adviser, said: “This set of results should be of concern to all MUNSTER dairy farmers. It seems that most herds are exposed to a high gutworm challenge from pasture, and this means that they could be delivering more milk and more money.  In adult cows it is uncommon to see obvious signs of gutworm infection, such as scouring, so farmers may not be aware of the problem and may not feel it is having any effect on their cows.

“However, there is clear evidence that this level of challenge has a detrimental effect on production in a number of critical areas. Research shows that gutworms can reduce milk yield by up to 2.2 litres per cow per day1. There is also some evidence that treating dairy cows against gutworms improves their fertility, reducing the calving to conception interval and improving conception rates 2.”

If a cow gives an extra 2.2 litres for every day of lactation (around 305 days each year), that’s an extra 671 litres per year. This equates to just under €215* per cow per year at an average farmgate price of c. €0.32 per litre and that’s not accounting for any fertility benefits. Fiona says: “Producers should really consider treating their dairy cows at grass to make sure they are maximising the nutrient benefit from their cheapest source of feed, namely grass. Cows that are treated for gutworms eat more and are less likely to lose condition, meaning milk production and fertility are less likely to be compromised.”
The attached map uses the recorded number of cows per county, additional 671 litres milk that a treated cow can produce, sold at an average price of €0.32 per litre, less the average cost of treatment with Eprinex® to show how much more each county could have delivered were cows to have been treated against gutworms.  Notable county figures include more than €54m for Cork, around €14m for Limerick and Kerry, over €10m in Kilkenny, and just under this figure in Tipperary and Limerick.
Eprinex® has a zero milk withhold, providing the ability to treat cows at any stage of lactation without the worry of lost milk sales.  Eprinex® is also the wormer that has been proven with more than a decade of successful use by Irish dairy farmers.
1 M. Reist, et al, The Veterinary Record, 2002, p377-380
2   McPherson WB et al. Proceedings of the American Asssociation of Veterinary Parasitologists. 44th Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Lousiana, USA, 1999 Abstr. 28.

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