Mastitis prevention is all about hygenic teat management and ensuring infections aren’t able to penetrate the teat end, Ian Ohnstadt told visitors to a Dairy Event and Livestock Show Farm Health Planning seminar.

“Teat cleanliness is critical to minimising mastitis levels and this means managing cows to ensure teats are as clean as possible at all times. There are three key areas, housing management, grazing management and teat preparation methods,” he explained.

“Teat condition is also crucial and this means ensuring teat ends and teat skin are in good condition and teat disinfection is properly carried out.”

When it came to housing management, ensuring cows were lying in appropriately sized cubicles and aren’t lying over the ends or sides is essential. “Cows must also have a sufficiently large bedded area and be bedded on a suitable bedding material. Ventilation is also paramount as well ventilated buildings are less hospitable environments for mastitis bacteria to live in.”

Dairy-parlour

Teat cleanliness will be essential to preventing mastitis this winter,
with straw shortages likely to cause problems for many

Obtaining sufficient straw to bed cows could be a challenge this year, but Mr Ohnstadt advised farmers to assess stocks now and make plans to secure extra supplies immediately. “Work out how much straw you’ll need, balance this against what’s in the stack and then order more as is appropriate. It is likely to become much dearer as the winter progresses, so having it in stock now is the best option.

“There are alternative bedding materials available, but you need to be sure of the consequences of using them before embarking on any change from the normal plan,” he explained to the assembled crowd .

Extending the grazing period is one way of reducing demand on meagre straw stocks, but when this is done cattle must be managed carefully at grass, warned Mr Ohnstadt. “Gateways are an area of particular concern, as are feed troughs and drinking troughs. These are areas where cattle congregate and where teat cleanliness can be compromised.”

Teat preparation will be crucial this winter and teats should be washed and dried and pre-treated with either a dip, spray or foam. “For drying, laundered towels are the best option as medicated wipes and paper towels are beginning to cause serious disposal problems for many farms.”

Post milking disinfection is important too, this must be done with 60 seconds of cluster removal to ensure complete teat coverage, he added.

Are you worried about a shortage of straw this year?

Why not watch out Dairy Event and Livestock Show video to see what industry experts recommend