15 September 1995

CULL CURBS MASTITIS

MASTITIS is controlled by culling cows that fail to respond to antibiotic treatment on one North Yorkshire dairy unit.

High standards of cow cleanliness and dry cow therapy have also helped reduce cell counts in Norman Shepherds 140-cow herd.

Average cell count for the 7750-litre herd at 121ha (300-acre) Kingstone Farm, Felbeck, Patley Bridge, is now below 100,000/ml. Over the last eight months, the average has been 85,000 cells/ml and less than 10 clinical mastitis cases have occurred during the last year. For Mr Shepherd the key to reducing mastitis is culling those cows which suffer three clinical cases in a lactation.

In addition, cows which are prone to clinical cases are dry cow tubed twice. On vet advice, he tubes at the beginning and then mid-way through the dry period.

In the parlour Mr Shepherd follows advice of ADAS consultant, John Baines. The aim is to do as little teat preparation as possible.

One help is to spread fresh sawdust over cubicle beds when the cows are collected for milking.

"Keeping the cows clean makes milking quicker and easier," he says. "Any dirty cows are washed with disinfectant and dried with a paper towel."

The milking plant is well maintained to prevent damage to the cows. It is tested by an engineer twice a year and Mr Shepherd cleans out the air filters on the pulsators once a month. Teat cup liners are replaced every six months.

He claims that teat end damage used to occur, but since changing to large claw-pieces he has seen much less.

After milking teats are sprayed with disinfectant. Mr Shepherd adds extra glycerine to the spray to improve teat condition.

Mastitis cases had been highest at the farm in a mild damp November – caused in part by a lack of ventilation in the cubicle shed. This was improved when the cubicle shed was extended. &#42