1 November 1996

Stay squeaky clean when bugs lurk…

DAIRY producers are advised to keep on top of hygiene at calving and housing when the risk of mastitis infection is high.

"In the dry cows udder, growth of E coli is suppressed by a lack of available iron. But as calving approaches, udder pH levels fall, releasing iron which helps the bug to multiply," says Tony Andrews of the Royal Veterinary College.

He explains that until calving high levels of antibodies are present in colostrum and limit disease. But after calving these antibodies, and reserves of antibodies in the bloodstream, are drawn on by the calf making the cow more susceptible to mastitis.

"With her reserves of antibodies reduced, the cow is more vulnerable to mastitis bugs present in the environment.

"Dung, which is the major source of infection, must, therefore, be removed from calving boxes and cubicles and a good hygiene routine established. Fresh straw, clean cubicles, passageways, and calving boxes are vital.

He also advises keeping the cow standing for 30 minutes after milking ideally in a clean dispersal yard to allow the teat sphincter to close.