New Zealand’s PureMilk mastitis consultancy lowers clinical mastitis levels

PureMilk Mastitis Consultancy is a specialised consultancy service that provides solutions for dairy farmers and veterinarians dealing with mastitis issues. Headquartered in New Zealand, the company is owned by three veterinarians, Dr. Adrian Joe, Dr. Steve Cranefield and Dr. Ian Hodge, who found themselves working in a 70-vet mixed practice which spanned the entire country.

“Before long we realised we were all working towards the same goals, but in slightly different ways,” says Adrian Hodge. “We realised that by putting our knowledge and skills together we could learn from one another and develop a formidable mastitis control service in New Zealand.”

And that’s exactly what they’ve done.

PureMilk is a nationally available service that addresses mastitis. The organisation has no commercial ties with individual companies or products. The service they offer is impartial and based on a combination of science and experience. PureMilk sees teat health as critical. As a result, its services are based on identifying key risk factors for mastitis, particularly those that can occur at milking time.

To gain a better understanding, PureMilk consultants visit farmers at milking time to observe on-farm practices and make changes where necessary. In their published work, they found, for example, they found that only 12 percent of New Zealand dairy farmers use mixed and sprayed teat spray adequately. Over the hundreds of visits they have done, the organisation has been able to successfully achieve very good milk out in 80 percent or more of the cows.

Reductions in clinical mastitis over 5 years under a PureMilk programme
Reductions in clinical mastitis over 5 years under a PureMilk programme

“We have seen that if cows are comfortable during the milking process they will release oxytocin continuously throughout milking,” says Hodge. “They will also have a good milk ejection reflex, and as a result, they will milk out quickly and completely.”

As a result, in many cases, they were able to reduce the bulk milk somatic cell counts by as much as 30 percent. In clinical cases, reduction rates were even higher. Improved milk out is not only good for the farmer’s bottomline, but it also improves mastitis control.

PureMilk also works with farmers to be sure that milking machine design and components aren’t affecting mastitis control. “It is not uncommon for us to detect surging and frothing in the milk flows of milking machines,” says Hodge. “During milking, we regularly detect unacceptable fluctuations in milking vacuums, as well as faults in the pulsation system.”

PureMilk’s format is to respond to farmer’s requests to visit their farm. All visits take place at milking time, so processes can be observed and milking machines accessed. In addition, they look for suboptimal cluster alignment, cluster slippage, signs of discomfort in the cows, cow flow and any risks associated with those who are milking the cows. After that, they make adjustments to the milking machine during milking, or suggest that changes be made by technicians. Following the visit, they compile a written report and send it to the farmer either by post of by email. A follow-up visit is scheduled shortly after that time.

“As consultants, it is our goal to reduce the prevalence of mastitis in New Zealand,” says Hodge. “We believe we have now made a significant contribution to New Zealand’s favourable position of having reasonably low levels of mastitis.”