Economical help from the Mastitis Fairy

REPLACING THE reagent in a California Milk Test (CMT) with Fairy washing-up liquid identifies high cell count quarters for 5% of the cost, at just 1p a cow.

 But the detergent needs to be a quality one, says researcher Andrew Bradley of Bristol Vet School.

“Many producers know they can substitute reagent with washing-up liquid, but think any washing-up liquid will do. It won’t,” says Dr Bradley, reporting MDC-funded work with Warwick University research vet Martin Green.

The CMT works when the reagent”s surfactant causes white blood cells in the milk sample to break open and release their contents. This forms a gel, indicating a high cell count.

Performance

 In the trial, Fairy diluted with water performed as well as the standard reagent and better than three cheap own-brands of washing-up liquid, because of the type of surfactant in it, says Dr Bradley.

He recommends mixing one part Fairy to four parts water and adding 0.5ml of dark food colouring to aid visibility of the test result.