Antibiotic Residues in the Dairy Sector: Introducing MilkSure

Carolyn Baguley explains more info about the MilkSure initiative and the benefits of signing up.

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The dairy sector uses relatively few antibiotics in comparison to other farming sectors, but carries a high risk of residues.

Each year approximately 500,000 bulk tank samples are tested for antibiotic residues, of which about 0.25% fail.  If every collection was tested, there would be over 7,000 failures.  And how much milk enters the food chain above the MRL (maximum residue limit) at an individual cow level that is not detected through testing? Breakdowns of the causes of contamination, and of failures by treatment type, are shown in tables 1 and 2.

Table 1: Cause of Contamination on a Farm
Table 2: Bulk Tank Failure by Treatment Type

What Is MilkSure?

The new MilkSure initiative – part of the industry’s strategy on antibiotics – is led by DairyUK and has been developed in conjunction with BCVA (the British Cattle Veterinary Association).  It is a training course for British dairy farmers and their employees, and its mission is to safeguard the production of wholesome, residue-free milk.  Farmers will benefit from the course by having fewer costly milk residue failures, using medicines more efficiently, and demonstrating to customers a clear commitment to producing pure, safe milk.

The Course

The three-hour course is provided by the farm’s own vet, using a workbook and other learning materials.  A technical section is followed by a practical session on-farm.  An on-line test completes the training (the vet can sit with the farmer and help them with the test!), after which a certificate (valid for 1 year and worth 7 Dairy Pro points) is issued.  If enough farms are interested, the technical session (1 ½ hours) could be done as a group workshop, and the individual on-farm practical sessions completed later.

Why Sign Up To MilkSure?

You may have been asked to complete the MilkSure course by your milk buyer, or you may be interested in signing up yourself or your employees. Visit the MilkSure website for more details, including the cost of the course (this includes a registration fee, payable to MilkSure, plus the cost of the vet’s time to deliver the training, payable to Scarsdale).

Please let us know if you would like to sign up, if you have signed up already (you can register on the MilkSure website directly), or if you need any more information.

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