The CellCheck Milking For Quality Awards is an initiative to recognise and reward the excellence of Irish farmers who are currently achieving very high standards of udder health on their farm. Since the inception of the Awards in 2014, FBD Insurance have sponsored the ‘Best 500’ Award given to the 500 milk suppliers nationally with the lowest, weighted annual average somatic cell count (SCC) for the previous year’s supply and the two discussion group categories which are open to all Dairy Discussions Groups – Most improved group and Best SCC group.
CellCheck Discussion Group Competition 2020
Producing low Somatic Cell Count (SCC) milk is an on-going challenge for Irish dairy farmers. Over the past three years, as part of the CellCheck Milking for Quality Awards, Teagasc and AHI, supported by ICBF, have run a FBD sponsored discussion group category focusing on producing low SCC milk and on reducing SCC levels among group members. Around 20 groups containing 300 members have participated each year. This year, the milk supplied by competing discussion groups averaged 155,000 cells/ml.
This year the group with the lowest average bulk milk SCC was the Tipperary-based Ballygiblin Discussion Group chaired by John Geary and facilitated by John McCabe of Teagasc. The 12-strong group principally supply Dairygold Co-op and had an average bulk milk SCC of 125,000 cells/ml.
The group with the greatest reduction in bulk milk SCC in 2019/20 compared to the average of the previous two years (2017/18 and 2018/19) were the Kenmare Discussion Group. Supplying Kerry, the 13-strong group is chaired by Pat Randles and facilitated by Teagasc adviser Kevin Stagg. In winning this category, the group had reduced average SCC supplied by 18,000 cells/ml in 2019/20 to a respectable average of 155,000 cells/ml. This year, the milk supplied by competing discussion groups fell by an average of 3,000 cells/ml from an already low base compared to the average of the previous two years.
Judges: George Ramsbottom – Teagasc, Finola McCoy – AHI and Kevin Downing – ICBF