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How to drive down cell counts and mastitis

Everyone knows that dairy herd mastitis costs money, so reducing incidence is key. Our target is less than 30 cows per 100 cows per year, and SCC’s below 120. Above these levels the costs to your dairy business escalate alarmingly. The cost of a single case in lost milk, extra culls and treatment is at least £250/case.

Using milk recordings, Interherd and Total Vet we analyse your records, identifying the source of infection and identify the management changes needed.

Coping with Dairy Herd Mastitis

Mastitis is the inflammation of a cow’s mammary gland usually caused by bacteria entering the teat canal and moving to the udder. There are two main types of mastitis in cows:

Contagious mastitis (cow-associated mastitis)

The main bacteria causing contagious mastitis are Staph aureus and Strep agalactiae. They mostly live inside udders or on teat skin and are spread in a number of ways. Either on the milkers' hands during teat preparation or by cross flow of milk between teat cups during milking or by splashes of infected milk or sprays during stripping or teatcup liners and by cross flow of milk between teatcups. Strep agalactiae bacteria tend to locate in duct areas of the udder and are very sensitive to penicillin, so have relatively high cure rates. Staph aureus forms pockets of infection within the udder which are protected from antibiotics. Cure rates are therefore much lower. Strep uberis is sometimes spread at milking. Strep uberis is an environmental organism, but once inside the udder can act as a contagious one and therefore needs a different approach to control. Strep agalactiae are very sensitive to penicillin, so treatment has a relatively high cure rate

Environmental Mastitis

The main bacteria causing environmental mastitis are EColi and Strep uberis. The most common sources of them are dirty teats/cows, bedding, calving pens, scrape passageways and contaminated water sources. Housed cows tend to be more at risk to environmental mastitis than grazing cows, but dirty paddocks/tracks can also be a problem. EColi infections do not generally persist and recur but Strep uberis ones do.

Environmental mastitis occurs on parts of the cow other than the mammary gland. The main bacteria are Strep uberis which can sometimes persist and can spread at milking. The other culprit is E. coli which does not thrive in the lactating udder and often the infections do not persist.

Transition and post-calving cows are very susceptible to these infections because their natural defences are low at this time.

At Douglas Green Consulting, we have consultants who are accredited to deliver the AHDB mastitis control plan so we are well equipped to provide you with the proven steps you need to take to reduce infection of mastitis. Contact us today for your first consultation.

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