By Anne Boswell
Farmers using natural plant-based solutions on their herds are getting good results.
Waikato dairy farmer Bruce Bayes is the first to admit that if something’s not broken, then he’s hesitant to change it.
However, his use of a range of scientifically-researched, plant-based products to support a number of animal health challenges is proof that change can mean significant improvement.
“We’ve been milking cows for 30 years and we were sceptical at the start,” Bruce says. “But once we saw the effect on the first cows we gave the boluses we thought, my god, this works.”
Bruce and his team of three milk 500 cows south of Cambridge and started using AHV (Animal Health Vision) udder health solutions in February 2022. As someone who followed the traditional process of stripping colostrum cows, performing RMT’s and treating any “gluggy” cows with traditional methods, Bruce wanted something different; a process that was easier on the herd.
Bruce Bayes milks 500 cows on his Waikato farm and uses a range of scientifically researched, plant-based products to improve the animal health of his herd, including challenges with udder health.
No milk or meat withhold with AHV
Today, under the AHV concept, the identification of severe udder health challenges remains the same for Bruce, but once he identifies a gluggy cow he gives them AHV Udder Health boluses. As the product is 100% natural, there is no milk or meat withholding period required.
In mid-September, Bruce had given 14 cows and three heifers the AHV Udder Health boluses and, with only 26 cows left to calve, no cows had been culled due to strong udder health challenges.
“It has been a particularly bad season for udder health around the country due to the wet weather, but we have had no ongoing challenges,” he says.
With a post-calving bulk SCC of 70,000-90,000, Bruce says they take a lot of pride in their low cell count.
“If a product wasn’t working, we wouldn’t use it,” he says. “We have used a number of AHV products with huge success; some with immediate effect, where we can see results straight away.”
How does it work?
AHV, which was founded in 2014 by Dutch veterinarian Gertjan Streefland, uses the science of quorum sensing – when bacteria choreograph their actions as a group using complex chemical conversations to communicate – to develop animal health solutions.
By using plant-based supplements to interfere with the way bacteria communicate, AHV has created the next generation of health solutions for animals and people – leaving traditional methods as a last resort.
AHV NZ managing director Janneke Van Wagtendonk says unfavourable bacteria are like “hooligans waiting for the police force to weaken”.
AHV was founded in 2014 by Dutch veterinarian Gertjan Streefland and uses plant-based supplements. Pictured NZ Managing Director Janneke van Wagtendonk.
In an initial attachment, bacteria invade the host and form a biofilm, which is a survival strategy for bacteria. Biofilm protects the bacteria inside as it is impenetrable to traditional methods and immune cells.
When bacteria inside biofilm reaches sufficient population, in combination with ‘sensing’ immune suppression of the cow from external stressors, bacteria break out of the biofilm and challenges re-occur.
AHV products work to disrupt the quorum sensing process between bacteria. Through its research, AHV has been able to block bacterial communication and influence their behaviour, such as breaking down the biofilm structure. This way the cow’s own immune system is supported to ‘clean up’ the biofilm and bacteria.
A full portfolio
AHV offers Udder Health, Energy and Metabolism, Transition, Uterine Health and Calves solutions, which are administered orally as boluses in the rumen or paste in the mouth. The plant extracts enter the bloodstream and reach the site of the biofilm.
As the plant-based supplements are all natural there is no meat or milk witholding period required. And when animals are healthy, they are expending their energy into milk production rather than fighting challenges – meaning increased milk production, for longer.
Maungatautari farmer James Dallinger is also finding success with AHV products
Milking 550 cows, James first came across AHV products in a US dairy journal, but at that stage they were not available in New Zealand.
His wife had found great success with natural products to treat a skin condition and, after further reading into soil health and biofilm research, James decided he wanted to try something different with the herd.
James started using AHV products in March 2022 and gave several cows with Udder Health boluses, with success.
“It is a very simple, easy product to use, with no milk withholding period,” James says. “When you treat cows with traditional methods, they circulate throughout the body. As dairy farmers, I believe we will be scrutinised for our use of traditional methods in the future so it is wise to trial alternative solutions now to reduce our use.”
James, who has now used all of the products in the AHV range, has carried out a couple of product demonstrations on farm with promising results.
“We have been giving cows with medium range udder health values AHV Udder Health boluses instead of using dry cow traditional therapy, and early indications are looking good,” he says. “As soon as a cow goes down with severe udder health challenges, you can support her and continue putting milk into the vat.
“I plan to continue to use these products in the future. Everyone is trying to do their best with the information they have, and this could be a game changer.”
“A new way to keep my animals healthy”
“After Janneke van Wagtendonk, Managing Director for AHV NZ, explained how the AHV Udder Health support solutions work, I bought a bucket of AHV Quick, Extra and Aspi boluses each and used them on cows with deviating milk values. AHV also analyzed my herd test data and we looked at the history of each cow and prioritized what cows to support first.’
I am very happy with the results and that cows can remain in the milking herd after the boluses, which means less hassle and no risk of mistakes to be made by me or my staff.”
James Dallinger, Dairy farmer from Maungatautari
Get in touch!
Would you like to be visited by an Territory Manager to discuss the health challenges on your farm together? Our AHV Territory Manager will be happy to visit you to jointly assess the health of your cows and come up with appropriate farm-specific advice.
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