23 June 1995

…tar says ta-ta to disease

INCIDENCE of summer mastitis had been low on T &#42 Peacock and Sons Cheshire dairy unit. That is until last year when 10 dry cows and six heifers were infected.

The 64ha (160-acre) Fields Farm, Calverley, Tarporley, has 115 pedigree Friesian dairy cows and young stock and is less than three miles from Peckforton Home Farm.

Summer mastitis tends to affect one heifer every three or four years, and fly spray has never been used, claims Kevin Peacock.

"But the weather was very humid last summer and there were a lot more flies about," he says.

Efforts to control the flies with a pour-on repellant failed to prevent the summer mastitis. So vet Neil Howie of Wilson McWilliams and partners advised painting the animals udders with stockholm tar twice a week. "The stockholm tar controlled summer mastitis as soon as it was used," says Mr Peacock.

However, it was a labour intensive task, taking about an hour to paint 20 cows each time.

The usual dry cow and heifer field is the furthest from the farm, so the drystock were brought to a field closer to the buildings.

"This field had a wood so we put an electric fence 135m (150 yards) into the field to keep the stock away from it," he says.

Mr Peacock treated the quarters by stripping them out, putting in antibiotic tubes and rubbing in udder mint, for up to a week.

In total seven of the infected animals lost quarters. But the rest seem to have made a good recovery and are giving over 90% of their expected yield, he says.