20 November 1998

Mastitis concerns

INCREASING cow numbers and mild weather means environmental mastitis is a rising concern in dairy herds this winter.

Somerset-based mastitis vet Peter Edmonson says that more cases are being seen this year as producers boost herd size in an attempt to maintain herd financial performance. "However, theres a lack of accommodation, meaning more cows are squeezed into a smaller area."

This, coupled with earlier housing and mild weather is leading to a rapid build up of mastitis bugs – particularly strep uberis – in bedding.

"The challenge is sky high," he warns.

"In some cases, producers cant do anything to increase the amount of housing theyve got. However, frequent cleaning – at least every three to four weeks – and using lots of clean, dry straw will help. Avoid wet, mouldy straw – it will already be contaminated."

Management before and after milking is also key. "I recommend pre-dipping to avoid infection entering teats at milking. After milking, dont allow cows to return to housing and lie down straight away – this will allow bugs to enter the still-open teat canal."