AHDB launches tool to diagnose and tackle mastitis

The AHDB has launched a computer-based diagnostic and management system to help dairy farmers tackle mastitis in their herds.

The system is called QuarterPRO which stands for Quarterly Predict, React and Optimise.

It is formed around a three-step process:

  1. Data collection and analysis
  2. Using vets, advisers and published material to tackle the issue
  3. Repeating the process on a quarterly basis

See also: How mastitis detection tech helped reduce antibiotics use

The process begins with data collection on cell counts and other parameters which are uploaded by herd managers and consultants.

The system feeds the data into a pattern analysis tool which diagnoses whether the herd has an environmental dry period, environmental lactation or contagious mastitis issue.

It will also pick up issues relating to heifers, recurrence and seasonality, and signposts information on appropriate control measures in guides.

Together with vets or consultants the herd manager can then devise and implement a targeted management programme to tackle the disease.

With this in place, the process is repeated with further pattern analysis and advice on a quarterly basis.

Rachel Hayton at Synergy Farm Vets said QuarterPRO’s ability to identify whether mastitis was environmental or contagious and a dry or lactating cow issue narrowed down where to look for the cause.

Environmental patterns made up the vast majority of diagnoses, Ms Hayton said.

“Tackling dry period origin issues could involve management of calving areas or drying off technique,” she said. “Lactation origin issues may require a completely different set of control measures, such as cubicle or pasture management and milking routine.”

By contrast, contagious mastitis, or cow-to-cow spread, was the predominant pattern on far fewer farms these days, she suggested.

“These are the classic high somatic cell count (SCC) cows, infected with cow-adapted bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus,” she said.

“Measures may include prompt treatment of clinical cases, good parlour routine, antibiotic dry cow therapy or keeping a high SCC group to be milked last.”

When the producer has identified appropriate changes it is important to ensure that the whole farm team is working towards the same goal.

Repeating the QuarterPRO process every three months would further highlight the epicentres of the disease and allow the team to refine the management approach, she said.

More information

Both the software tools and guides are free and can be downloaded from the AHDB website.

Download the AHDB pattern analysis tool.

AHDB is holding a series of workshops around the country to which farmers can bring their data and discuss the results and control measures. Contact the AHDB for further information on info@ahdb.org.uk