Wednesday, 27 March 2024 12:55

Knowing bugs means fewer drugs

Written by  Staff Reporters
DairySmart chief executive Ben Davidson says he is proud to help play a pivotal role in helping tackle antibiotic resistance head-on. DairySmart chief executive Ben Davidson says he is proud to help play a pivotal role in helping tackle antibiotic resistance head-on.

A mastitis management company claims to deliver the fastest and most accurate mastitis testing available at scale for New Zealand dairy farmers.

DairySmart, winner of the 2023 Technology Innovation at the National Primary Industries Awards, says it is on a mission to transform mastitis management in New Zealand. In the process, it claims its testing systems can make less stressful for farmers and their staff, improve cow well-being, reduce antibiotic use and tackle antibiotic resistance - all while reducing costs.

The company's leading edge diagnostic system centres on a novel system of whole herd milk culture-based pathogen screening and the Jupiter machine. This is said to be world first AI and machine learning software technology for sample analysis, from which DairySmart feeds results back to farmers and their vets within 48 hours of taking a milk sample.

The technology identifies infected cows and which pathogen, giving a clear picture of cows with harmful bacteria lurking in their milk.

The company adds that its validated in-flow sample tool fitted to each milking line is different from existing techniques and has applied for a patent for the design. It means no hand sampling and allows its techs to on-farm test 160-200 cows per hour.

Human error is removed from the process via a specially designed wand, which reads each cow’s ear tag and logs it directly to RFID embedded sample pottles.

There is no need for handwriting in this system.

The company claims farmers who have implemented DairySmart say it has been a game-changer, empowering them and their teams with hard data, enabling better decision making, and easing the frustration, stress and cost of repeatedly dealing with mastitis cows.

Over 50,000 cows have now been sampled across NZ and farmers have apparently seen up to a 45% reduction in drycow antibiotic use compared to other strategies.

Antibiotic Use Drops

On Mike Prattley’s 2200 cow North Canterbury farm, antibiotic usage is down 90% after two years of using DairySmart diagnostics.

Meanwhile, mastitis is down 55% and SCC are down 33%, according to DairySmart.

Chief executive Ben Davidson puts the potential impact for DairySmart in perspective.

“When you think of the NZ autumn, we have got about five million cows that are dried off in a two-month window,” he explains.

“Some of them need certain antibiotics, but many of them don’t and up until now, there hasn’t been a fast, accurate way to mass sample and culture these cows for identifying individual mastitis pathogens, or to mass process the results.”

Davidson says DairySmart can process thousands of cow’s milk samples a day, and any result that its Jupiter machine is not 100% sure about is referred to SVS Labs for their microbiologists to analyse. The results are then fed back into the software, constantly improving the machine’s ability to diagnose milk cultures.

“The way the whole antibiotic resistance issue is shaping up for our veterinary industry,” he adds. “Vet practices are becoming a really important part of supporting responsible, strategic use of antibiotics and DairySmart is what they’ve been missing.”

www.dairysmart.co.nz

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