September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

How low can they go?

Dellar Dairy achieves 40,000 SCC, gives virtual tour at WDE
The milking cows at Dellar Dairy are housed in a sandbedded freestall barn. Parlor management, cleanliness and management of the barn and stalls are a few key factors for the Dellars in order to achieve a low somatic cell count.<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO SUBMITTED
The milking cows at Dellar Dairy are housed in a sandbedded freestall barn. Parlor management, cleanliness and management of the barn and stalls are a few key factors for the Dellars in order to achieve a low somatic cell count.<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO SUBMITTED

By by Krista Sheehan- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

MADISON, Wis. - For Ryan and Charina Dellar, the focus of their farm, Dellar Dairy, is to maintain excellent production accompanied by excellent milk quality.
"My husband and I are firm believers in if we are going to do something, we're going to do it right and to the best of our ability," Charina said.
This is true when it comes to milk quality on their farm. Currently, their herd has a somatic cell count average of 40,000 for the year. The Dellars, who milk 230 cows on their farm near Harrisville, Mich., explained how they achieve this low SCC during a virtual tour of their farm on Oct. 6 at World Dairy Expo.
"Having a low somatic cell count has never had only one thing as the main contributor; there are lots of factors," Charina said.
Those factors include parlor management, employee management, nutrition, cow comfort, cow health, genetics and overall cleanliness.
But somatic cell count hadn't always been one of the main focuses on the farm. Ryan took over 12 years ago, and Charina joined him four years later when they were married. Although Charina didn't have a farm background, she jumped right into the operation. She is in charge of the parlor, while Ryan takes care of the feeding and reproduction.
In February 2008, Charina attended the Michigan Milk Producers Association's Milker Training School, which focused on the basics of milking preparation and udder health. At that time, the Dellars' herd's SCC was about 250,000.
"At the time I didn't think our somatic cell count was that high," Charina said, "After attending Milker Training School, I changed everything about the way I milked and handled cows."
The Dellars also required their employees to attend the training. Within a year, the herd's SCC dropped to 70,000. Then in 2010 and 2011, it dropped to 50,000. This year's average somatic cell count has been 40,000.
Since attending the Milker Training School, the Dellars' milking prep procedure now focuses on milking a clean, dry and stimulated udder. Charina and five employees take care of the milking. In the parlor, milkers work in groups of three cows, making two trips to each cow. A cow is first dry wiped with a microfiber towel to remove sand and debris. Then each teat is dipped with one percent iodine foam, and then stripped four squirts per quarter while the dip is massaged into the teat end. The iodine foam is reapplied before moving on to do the same routine to the next two cows. This process takes about 10 to 20 seconds per cow.
Once those three cows are done, the milker returns back to the first cow and wipes each teat with a clean microfiber towel, focusing on the teat end. The unit is attached and aligned. The process from the first wipe until the milker is put on takes about 1.5 minutes.
"This allows for a fast, clean milkout to prevent teat end damage and over milking," Charina said.
When the cow is done and the automatic take off removes the unit, each cow is post dipped with a one percent iodine barrier teat dip.
"Every single cow is prepped the same way - even by the employees," Charina said.
To keep the udders clean in the parlor, all udder hair is singed.
Of the seven full-time and one part-time employees at Dellar Dairy, five of them milk cows with Charina. Each month, the Dellars have a meeting with all employees and discuss somatic cell count and bacteria counts. These counts are also posted on a daily basis right next to where the employees clock in for the day. All employees are required to attend the Milker Training School.
The Dellars milk in a parallel parlor built in 1999, and expanded in 2009. In 2010, the Dellars also started milking three times a day.
"We made the addition to be more efficient in the parlor and to be able to milk three times a day. We wanted to eliminate the length of time the cows stood in the holding pen," Charina said.
When there is a cow that has a flare up, Charina uses different methods to test for mastitis. She used to use a CMT paddle, but cannot anymore since it only detects a somatic cell count as low as 250,000, which Charina said rarely happens in one quarter. She now uses PortaSCC strips to check for mastitis in flagged cows and on all fresh cows. She also cultures all clinical and subclinical cows.
"It helps me determine how mastitis is caused and how to treat it correctly," she said.
Charina has found that about 75 percent of the cases she cultures don't have to be treated and can clear up on their own.
After parlor management, barn management and cleanliness is the next most important factor for a low somatic cell count, Charina said.
Milking cows are housed in a sand bedded freestall barn, which is scraped three times a day, with stalls raked once each day and new bedding added every six days. Dry cows are housed in a sawdust bedded freestall barn, which is scraped every day, raked every other day and bedded once a week. Calves are kept in a new calf barn built in 2011. They are fed two times a day.
Production has also benefited from making milking prep changes on the farm.
"After we improved the way we handled and milked the cows, production just took off like crazy," Charina said.
In 2008, their rolling herd average was 20,000. Now, it is currently at 30,550 pounds of milk with 3.4 percent fat and 2.9 percent protein.
Both a low somatic cell count and higher production have helped the farm financially. In 2011, the farm received $65,000 in bonuses, which gave them the ability to build their new calf barn. A lower somatic cell count has also improved cow health, helped the cows get bred back quicker and lowered metabolic issues such as ketosis and DAs.
"It's easier to manage and we put less time into treating sick animals," Charina said.
In the future, the Dellars will continue to modernize and expand their dairy, but they will continually strive for high production and high milk quality.
"It's amazing how high quality milk and high production go hand in hand," Charina said. "I believe every farmer has the capability to do the same things we have."
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