Controlling mastitis using Dairy Australia's Cups On Cups Off (COCO) principles around has paid dividends for Gippsland dairyfarmer Matt Coleman.
Mr Coleman, who farms with wife Rosalie and their children Maya, Billy and Lilia at Maffra in Gippsland, has been recognised for producing milk with cell counts in the lowest five per cent of Australian dairies.
Their Australian Milk Quality Award is no accident, with the Colemans showing a commitment to good habits - both in the dairy and on the farm - that help reduce cases of clinical mastitis.
While Mr Coleman leads the way in ensuring milk quality remains high, 15-year-old Maya recently attended a COCO workshop to help her better understand the steps involved in producing low cell count milk.
"It was fantastic for Maya," Mr Coleman said. "It really fast-tracked her knowledge of what happens in the dairy and what happens with the cows."
For Mr Coleman, who accompanied Maya to the COCO workshop, a refresher course in best practice helped reinforce good habits and opened his eyes to some new procedures.
"It reinforces what you need to do," Mr Coleman said. "Things like teat washing the cows and using paper towel, which I don't do. You can never say you know it all, you can always, improve and change."It's always important to look over the fence -- there's only so much you can learn at home. It's important to get out, go to these courses or discussion groups. You normally learn something every time you go out."
Mr Coleman's meticulous approach to herd health can be shown in his long list of 'dos and don'ts' that contribute to keeping his cows healthy.
"It's just doing the best you can, whether that's dry cow therapy, hygiene in the dairy or making sure you are changing your rubber-wear at the right time," he said.
"Around calving time, I always make sure there is somewhere clean for them to sit down at night time. I also tend to be pretty ruthless on culling cows that have three clinical cases of mastitis.
"We use green filter socks as one of our tools -- it just means you can see any prevalence of mastitis that little bit more easily.
"All the little recommendations you will see in the COCO course, we try and tick all those boxes to the best of our ability."
The Australian Milk Quality Awards recognise farms that have achieved the best milk quality based on annual average bulk milk cell count (BMCC) across Australia's milk processing companies.
Dairy Australia's Cups on Cups Off courses are two-day training workshops delivered by Regional Development Programs and trained experts in mastitis and milk quality. It helps dairyfarmers achieve best practice in milk harvesting, with the emphasis on the detection, treatment and prevention of clinical mastitis.