Jami Schultze works on a culture at Maple Ridge Dairy LLC in Stratford, Wis. The dairy has cultured their own mastitis cases for about three years, helping them to determine appropriate treatment protocols.
Jami Schultze works on a culture at Maple Ridge Dairy LLC in Stratford, Wis. The dairy has cultured their own mastitis cases for about three years, helping them to determine appropriate treatment protocols. PHOTO COURTESY OF BEV BREY
    STRATFORD, Wis. – Taking care of cows is not something Jami Schultze takes lightly in her position as herd manager at Maple Ridge Dairy, LLC, in Stratford, Wis.
    That attention to detail earned Schultze the top distinction from over 100 applicants in Boehringer Ingelheim’s Producers for Progress Recognition Program, celebrating dairy producers for their judicious use of antibiotics in their herds.
    Schultze manages the 1,650-cow herd at Maple Ridge Dairy, which is owned by Brian Forrest. The herd is milked in two facilities on the farm, with about 720 head being milked in a double-12 parallel parlor, while the remainder of the herd is milked in a double-16 parallel parlor. Cows are housed in sand-bedded freestall barns, which are groomed several times per week. New sand is added twice a week, and the stalls are completely cleaned out and re-bedded twice a year.
    The farm’s BI representative, Rebecca Gotham, first informed Schultze of the award, encouraging her to submit an application. The contest required her to answer essay questions, discussing responsible use of antibiotics and relating with the consumer.
    “We have customers and they need to be assured of our good practices and what we are doing to producer their food,” Forrest said of the importance he places on his herd management team’s focus on reducing drug usage on the farm. “Sadly, most consumers are removed from the farm by three or four generations. We need to continually communicate our dedication to our animals and our commitment to producing a safe, wholesome product.”
    Schultze and her herd management team on the farm work with their veterinarian to keep improving their antibiotic protocols, as well as protocols to treat problems such as milk fever and ketosis. They have developed standards for administering an IV, using needles and administering sub-cutaneous and intra-muscular injections. The team works together to re-evaluate and re-examine these protocols yearly during herd health visits every two weeks. The farm is also certified in the Food Armor® and the FARM programs.
    “We culture all of our mastitis cases here on the farm,” Schultze said. “If a cow comes up with a gram-positive culture, we will review the cow’s records to decide if she is a good candidate for intramammary antibiotic therapy or if she should be culled from the herd.”
    Cows that come up with gram-negative cultures are usually culled, since those cases typically will not respond to treatment.
    “If the culture results indicate no growth, antibiotics will not be administered. We know that no bacteria growth means the infection is gone and only inflammation remains,” Schultze said.
    On the farm, mastitis problems are initially detected by the milkers. When abnormal milk is observed while forestripping during the milking process, a red band is placed on the cow and she is then segregated into the hospital pen where Schultze or others evaluate the cow, culture the milk and administer treatment as necessary.
    “We think that it’s important to look at and diagnose each cow as an individual and not just treat because a cow seems off,” Schultze said. “If she’s off, we want to know why she is off. When we treat something, we want to do it responsibly.”
    Limiting the number of people who are responsible for administering antibiotics is one way the herd management team can ensure drugs are being used appropriately. The herdspeople use Dairy Comp 305 and written records to help communicate, as anything administered is entered in both places.
    The on-farm culturing process, which they have used for about three years, comprised a great deal of the base for Schultze’s application for the award. Schultze noted that when an antibiotic is administered to an animal and the proper withholding time has been met, all treated cows are still tested prior to their milk going back into the tank, , something that Schultze thinks is important for consumers to understand..
    A beneficial addition to the farm’s milking procedures was the installation of teat scrubbers, which were first installed in the double-12 parlor two years ago and have since been installed in the double-16 parlor.
    “The teat scrubbers made a big difference in the number of mastitis cases we were dealing with,” Schultze said. “Our average SCC so far for 2018 is under 91,000. The teat scrubber gives consistency in the prepping process, because everyone is doing it the same.”
    Caring for cows in the post-fresh pen comprises a great deal of Schultze’s time. As a matter of routine, each cow is examined and has her temperature taken on days three, five and 10. Older cows or cows carrying excess condition are tested for ketosis, using ketone strips.
    Schultze and Forrest both see that connection to the consumer as an important facet in the future of the dairy industry. The farm hosts tours to help share the story of how dairy products are produced in a safe and wholesome manner whenever they can.
    “It’s really frustrating to have all the misinformation floating around on social media, and we need to continually develop different tools to combat that,” Forrest said. “We need to get better at telling our story, the correct story.”
    Forrest credits the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW) with giving him the tools he needs as a producer to rise above the frustration and work to proactively deal with providing correct and true information to consumers.
    “Consumers are becoming more interested in and want more transparency in antibiotic usage,” Schultze said of the importance of working towards reducing antibiotic usage. “It’s our job to earn their trust that we’re caring for our animals and producing a safe product.”