Holstein International: February 2016 "Hygiene on the farm: calculating the cost of mastitis"

The Italian based company SOP offers a different solution for hygiene issues of the herd. "We consider hygiene in a different way to standard disinfectants by focusing on the microbial load that is in constant interaction with the animals," explains Paola Luparia from SOP. "Our products are unique complementary mineral feeds, made with natural ingredients and formulated with our proprietary technology to counteract the action of the pathogenic microorganisms by opposing their development and by promoting the growth of saprophytic bacteria. The competition between the pathogenic and beneficial bacteria becomes so intense that new pathogens such as Coli or Klebsiella from the animal feces are unable to colonize and create issues for the herd, especially in environments rich in organic matter that cannot be disinfected. We have defined this process as "SOP Bio-hygienization", a long-term stabilization of the environmental microbial load." The latest product, SOP STAR COW, has an additional action: It also directly stimulates the resilience centers of the animal - the digestive system, the immune system and the neuro-endocrine system - in order to boost the animal's metabolism and stamina.

The SOP products are added to the feed mixing wagon once a day at a rate of 2-4 grams per cow, and at those low rates, will not unbalance the nutrition value of the feed. The cow then spreads it to the environment, and it doesn't matter what kind of bedding, or whether hot or cold climates, the "bio-hygienization" then takes place. It is recommended that the product be used all year round to maintain the new equilibrium of the bacteria load once it has been established. 
What are the first noticeable effects once you start using the product? "Results can be seen quite quickly but can be varied depending on the health and bacteria challenges on the farm," comments Paola. "The counteraction of the pathogens and putrefying bacteria is immediate and the first sign is a drop in ammonia emissions, which usually takes two weeks to reach its highest. You should also see the breaking down of the organic matter in the stalls or loose yards will also be noticed, especially with sawdust or straw, resulting in cleaner animals and savings in the cost of materials. As a consequence of the better hygiene and improved comfort, after about two weeks to a couple of months there is generally a drop in the number of cases of mastitis and the SCC, to an extent which depends on the initial situation of the herd. In order to achieve the best results it is imperative to treat the so-called "critical areas": the dry cow pen, the calving pen and the fresh cow pens. At those critical times, animals often get sick more easily compared to other periods of their productive lives."

Studies of the efficacy of the SOP products have been carried out at a number of universities including Perugia, Milan and Turin, and in North America at Guelph and Cornell. Results have been presented at various international dairy science and veterinary conferences, and are freely available. This eco-friendly approach adds another tool to managing the challenges of mastitis.

Doug Savage (translation by SOP Srl.)