Dealing with Mastitis
Mastitis control programme vital to eliminate infection.
There are two main aspects to mastitis control.
(1) Get rid of existing infections in the herd.
(2) Prevent new infections.
The first step in getting rid of existing infections is to identify and cull chronically infected cows with high SCCs.
Dry cow therapy will help reduce SCC levels and should be practiced in all herds.
Dry cow therapy will not help chronically infected cows. They should be culled.
Preventing or minimising new infections is the key to mastitis control.
The main practices for achieving this are:
* Maintain milking machines in perfect working order.
Many farmers find that lowering the vacuum level well below the recommended 48 kPa helps lower SCC.
* Change liners after 2,000 milkings, which is about now for most spring calving herds.
* Practice a good milking technique and good hygiene.
* Use an approved teat dip after every milking.
Use 10 cc/cow/milking if dipping, which is 1 litre of dip per 50 cows per day. If spraying, use 15cc/cow and spray all around each teat.
If the dip is at the correct strength, do not dilute with glycerine or any other product.
* Make sure you have a proper sprayer which is working correctly.
* Identify and treat new cases of mastitis promptly with antibiotics.
* Some farmers find the CMT test very useful as a guide to early detection.
It is cheap, easy to use and gives instant results.
* Every farmer should monitor SCCs regularly throughout the year.
Milk recording is the only satisfactory means by which you can have regular herd and individual cow SCC records.
Check co-op milk report which you should get after each delivery.
* Use dry cow therapy properly.
* Milkers should use clean gloves to prevent spread of bacteria by hands.
* Provide a comfortable, clean, dry environment for cows and heifers indoors.
* Keep cows free of stress from stray electricity or rough handling.
* Cows are particularly susceptible to mastitis infection in the few weeks before and after calving and need a lot of attention.
* Ensure that cows have adequate high quality minerals / trace elements.
* Keep milking parlour well ventilated to avoid dampness and spread of bacteria.
* In problem herds, teats should be sprayed before milking, dry wiped and clusters disinfected between cows.
* Every farmer should carefully follow the above programme. And, of course, good records are essential.