23 August 2002

Bugs thrive in humidity

CONTINUED warm humid weather is causing problems for many dairy producers as bugs are thriving at a time of year when they should be dying off in hot dry conditons, says independent vet consultant Tony Andrews.

The incidence of environmental mastitis in cows has increased in recent weeks, along with cases of pneumonia and scours in calves.

"Neither pneumonia or scours should be causing a problem at this time of year. But the continued humidity during the summer has allowed the bugs which cause these infections to thrive," explains Dr Andrews.

"Herd managers should start to think about prevention policies now rather than wait to see signs of disease. Once pneumonia takes hold it can have a devastating effect very quickly."

Cases of summer mastitis should be treated by a vet at the earliest opportunity. Dr Andrews believes many producers confuse summer mastitis with milk fever and by the time they realise it is mastitis it is often too late to give any effective treatment.

"While treating a sick cow without vet advice may seem like an economic saving, in the long-term it is no solution as it often results in cow losses," he says. &#42

Dr Andrews.

He believes the problems will also persist through the winter months. Milder, wetter winters are resulting in higher disease incidences as the causative bugs are not being killed off by a cold spell.