Brazil’s largest dairy farm, Fazenda Colorado, has been steadily growing since it was first purchased in 1964.But sometimes growth comes with growing pains. For farm technical manager and veterinarian Dr. Sergio Soriano, the farm’s growing pains came in the form of udder health issues. In a candid interview, Dr. Soriano talks challenge, change and progress.
With a total herd of 4,500 cows, 2,050 of which are in production, Fazenda Colorado is Brazil’s largest dairy farm. But it wasn’t always the largest. In fact, its beginnings are quite humble. There were only a few cows and some sugarcane on the property when Lair Antônio de Souza bought the farm in 1964.
Today, the farm spans 1,700 hectares, 700 of which are dedicated milk production to crops (600 to corn and 80 to grass – Tifton and CostCross) and 20 to facilities. The 2,050 cows in production are milked three times each day in a rotary milking system with 72 units. On average, each cow produces 40L of milk each day, totaling 82,000 liters per day. Cows are in milk, on average of 178 days.
Since his passing, the farm is now owned and operated by De Souza’s four children, Carlos Alberto Pasetti de Souza and his siblings Luiz Antônio, Celia Maria and Regina Elena. The farm is located in the city of Araras in the state of São Paulo. In 1982, the De Souza family created XANDÔ Dairy (http://www.xando.com.br) where they now process the milk they produce.
In July of 2016, farm technical manager and veterinarian Sergio Soriano brought together a team of consultants that included Rafael Ortega from Hipra, a Spanish veterinarian with more than 25 years experience in milk quality, and Portuguese veterinarian Luis Pinho, who acted as an external consultant. While the farm already had good indexes, they were looking to make improvements. Somatic cell counts at that time were quite high, and mastitis was becoming a big problem.
“Before we counted, on average, 400,000 somatic cells,” said Soriano. “Since the work started in 2016, this number is decreasing. Today, it is at 250,000 – 160,000 thousand is the average in the bulk tank.”
A holistic approach reaps the greatest rewards
The first step to improving udder health meant completing a farm-wide analysis. Only then would they know where to make changes. The analysis showed that the causes were multifactorial, and related to milking routine, the milking machine, environment and on-farm training.
“We had some problems with environmental bacteria, but what bothered us most were the contagious bacteria – Staphylococcus Coagulase Negative,” said
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