12 December 1997

Keep straw yards fresh

STRAW yards should be bedded every day to reduce the risk of environmental mastitis, especially with high yielding dairy cows.

Hants-based vet Jonathan Harwood, St Peters Vet Group, has seen cases of environmental mastitis, caused by E coli and Strep uberis bugs, earlier than usual this winter.

He believes that more mild autumn weather, increasing bug multiplication rates, is a contributory factor, but that increasing yields also increase mastitis risk and producers must tighten housing management.

"Yards must be bedded with dry straw every day. They also need good drainage and must not be overstocked." Mr Harwood also suggests that cubicles are kept clean.

Good teat preparation before milking will also help reduce transfer of infection, so wash udders and dry wipe, he adds.

When a cow is sick with E coli type mastitis call the vet in early or risk losing her whole lactation, warns Mr Harwood.