Ketosis test cuts costs for dairy farmers
FOSS has developed a test that can cut costs for dairy farmers by giving an early warning of ketosis in the entire herd. The test is performed simultaneously with the established tests, using the same sample and existing installed equipment
One laboratory that has put the new test into practice is the Canadian milk testing centre Valacta. With the typical cost of ketosis at Canadian $350 per incidence for a single cow, farmers using the service can gain much from the $6 a month test to screen their entire herd for ketosis.
In the first six months that the test has been available, around 60% of the laboratory’s 5000 clients have taken up the new option.
Exploiting existing infrastructure
The test is provided by a service called KETOLAB which is offered as an option alongside the standard dairy herd improvement (DHI) tests that help farmers to manage their herds, for example, tests for composition and conditions such as. The ketosis test is performed simultaneously with the established tests using the same sample and existing installed equipment.
Daniel Lefebvre, general manager of Valacta, says, “We are spending a lot of effort and money on collecting a sample from each cow and getting it to the lab, so adding an extra item is a way to make better use of that investment. It does have a lot of value to the customer because management of the cow around the time of calving is critical for the health and productivity of the cow for the rest of the lactation period. Previously we had very few tools to manage this period.”
Early warning for an entire herd
Ketosis is only visible in the clinical stage so if it can be caught in the early sub-clinical phase, a loss of milk and animal discomfort can be avoided. It is also rarely limited to individual cows and Lefebvre is keen to stress this herd-level aspect of the Ketolab service.
Improving milk production
According to results from Valacta, the test has great potential, not just for improving milk testing business, but also for improving milk production as a whole. Based on 24,000 milk samples tested by the laboratory, 27% of cows between the 3rd and 35th day of lactation were found to have ketosis. Not surprisingly the Canadian veterinary community and feed industry are showing considerable interest in the new way to keep dairy cows healthy, happy and productive.
Read the full story in the In Focus magazine here.