16 November 2001

How to reduce

environmental mastitis risks

WINTER housing and recent warm, wet weather are the ideal ingredients for increasing environmental mastitis, but action can be taken to reduce risks this autumn.

Numbers of mastitis cases have soared recently, according to Lancs vet Andrew White. "These units are currently overstocked due to foot-and-mouth movement restrictions and were forced into housing extra cattle."

This has resulted in warm, humid buildings encouraging mastitis causing bacteria to multiply. To minimise risks, Mr White advises using plenty of bedding and clipping udders and tails as soon as animals are housed.

Early detection is crucial in the fight against mastitis as it increases the effectiveness of antibiotic treatments.

Another strategy is to improve building ventilation to reduce humidity levels. This winter, more than 20% of his clients have installed electric fans and plastic tubing and are they seeing benefits in reduced mastitis cases.

But research at Bristol Univer-sity suggests that infection can lie dormant in the udder for some time before clinical mastitis occurs, says research vet Andrew Bradley.

"E coli, the commonest cause of clinical mastitis, can enter the udder up to three weeks before calving and infected cows are six times more likely to have mastitis during lactation."

Using a dry cow therapy effective against E coli and Staph aureus bacteria for 10 weeks reduced mastitis incidence during the first 100 days of lactation by 45%. &#42