2 August 2002

Hot weather mastitis risk

RECENT temperature increases could lead to an explosion in summer mastitis cases and farms with a history of the disease should take steps to prevent it, warns independent vet consultant Tony Andrews.

"So far this year there have been few summer mastitis cases, due to cool weather. But head flies which carry the disease like a warm spell, so we could see cases increase substantially."

Dry cows close to calving – when dry cow antibiotics are nearing the end of their effectiveness – and heifers are most at risk, says Dr Andrews. "With summer mastitis we are talking about loss of a quarter, so it is worthwhile thinking through a prevention strategy."

Paddocks with wooded areas and close to water tend to have the highest head fly populations, so avoid keeping high risk animals in these over the next month or so, suggests Dr Andrews.

"Dry cows and heifers are often kept in paddocks away from the holding where they may be seen less often than animals nearer home. Consider moving them close to buildings or even house them, temporarily."

Putting cows and heifers through the parlour is also a good idea, he believes. "This ensures udders are looked at and it gets heifers used to the parlour. By the time swollen quarters are discovered it is usually too late to save them, so watch for any teats attracting flies."

Also treat for head flies using pour-ons or ear tags containing an insecticide, he says. &#42