8 August 1997

Daily check-up

beats mastitis

DAILY checks of dry cows and heifers are essential, warn vets who report a dramatic rise in summer mastitis.

Warm, damp conditions and the high number of flies about are the main cause, believes Devon based dairy vet Andrew Biggs.

"One client has seen more cases this season than in the last 14 years that hes been milking cows; incidence has been so bad for another that hes brought in his dry cows."

Mr Biggs advises keeping stock away from woods, water, and valleys where air movement will be slower, so encouraging flies. Even so, some fly control will be needed. Then, he stresses, its important to watch stock closely to ensure early diagnosis.

Tell tale symptoms will be a general malaise, stiffness in the legs and swelling in the udder. "If there are symptoms, get the animal in and strip out the infected quarter," says Mr Biggs.

Stripping out is the key, but he also advises an antibiotic injection; tubing as a treatment is of limited use, he says. Dry cow tubing -although not 100% effective against summer mastitis – is a cornerstone of prevention. "Some producers also make use of sealing agents such as tapes or sprays or possibly stockholm tar." He advises consulting a vet for specific advice.n