Managing milk quality on farm

Mastitis and milk quality more widely is important to farm profit. The level of mastitis in a herd is measured through bulk milk cell count (BMCC), changes as measured through Individual Cow Cell Counts (ICCC) and clinical mastitis. The quality of the milk, as reflected in the BMCC, cannot be altered once it leaves the farm gate. All milk processors have quality payment schemes and the premiums on offer, where the herd BMCC is in the “best quality” band, significantly alter farm business profit despite only being a relatively small percentage of turnover.

John Penry is one of Australia’s most experienced mastitis investigators having conducted many investigations since 1993. Mastitis control work more recently has not only undertaken the industry standard approach as described through the Countdown Technotes but now incorporates a risk management approach. Successful mastitis management and risk mitigation is highly achievable on farms of all sizes and production types.

John is currently the Project Leader for Countdown 2020 and has undertaken this role since 2010. Through Countdown, he has conducted multiple farmer and adviser seminars and workshops in all dairying states. He has also attended more than eight international mastitis control conferences and has delivered presentations at five of those meetings.

Undertaking a mastitis investigation

Successful mastitis investigations are a collaborative affair between the farmer, farm team, lead investigator, processor field staff and the farm milking machine technician. The starting point is always identifying the presenting problem assisted by the herd’s milk quality records (BMCC and clinical case records), herd management history and milk culture results.

Whilst many herds may appear to have the same type of problem, the reality is that no two investigations are the same and the steps undertaken to reduce new infection risk and control current infections have to be tailored to the individual farm and farm team.


  • Countdown 2020

    • Countdown 2020: Countdown Wet Conditions Resource Pack Victoria
  • Countdown Adviser Resources

    • Countdown Adviser Resources: Countdown Downunder Mastitis Investigation Pack
  • Countdown Cell Count Solutions

    • Countdown Cell Count Solutions: Benefits of Reducing Cell Counts
  • Countdown Farm Guidelines

    • Countdown Farm Guidelines: Countdown Farm Guidelines 1999-2010
    • Countdown Symposium Proceedings: Mastitis Symposium 2011 Cover
  • Countdown Symposium Proceedings

    • Countdown Symposium Proceedings: Mastitis Symposium 2011
    • Countdown Symposium Proceedings: Mastitis Symposium 2012
    • Countdown Symposium Proceedings: Symposium Program 2012

Projects & Collaborators

Countdown 2020
The Countdown 2020 resources are contained on the Dairy Australia website: Primary Logic works in collaboration with the Countdown 2020 Project Manager for Dairy Australia, Dr Kathryn Davis
Harris Park Group
The Countdown project was previously lead and managed on behalf of Dairy Australia by Harris Park Group through Dr Pauline Brightling. John Penry has worked as a collaborator to this group since the start of the Countdown project in 1998.
Dairy Focus
Primary Logic has also worked on milk quality issues in conjunction with Dr Rod Dyson and Rob Moyle at Dairy Focus.