Mastitis still causing trouble at grass

Winter mastitis problems look set to linger on after cows go out to grass unless appropriate action is taken, says Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health.

Strep uberis remains the problem bug on farm, causing 23% of clinical cases, says Robert Ankcorn, Intervet/Schering Plough’s ruminant vet adviser.

“Cows infected with the contagious strain of this bacteria will be taking it out to grass. As a result, farmers will be faced with a summer of longer milking times, greater stress levels and rising costs – all associated with detecting and treating mastitis.”

The rising incidence of Strep uberis continues to be worrying for vets. The bug causes repeat cases, persistently high somatic cell counts and persistent infections which are often resilient to treatment.

“Because it can be contagious and environmental in the way it behaves, treatment programmes need to combine parlour and housing control measures,” says Mr Ankcorn.

You may expect mastitis levels to go down with cows at grass, but this may not always be the case. “Strep uberis is spread from cow to cow at milking, which means the risk of infection is just as great as when cows are inside.

The fact the cow-adapted strain is also tougher and harder to kill means this type of infection can cause lingering problems.

“Work with your vet on developing the most appropriate treatment protocol for your mastitis problem. For example, take post-treatment samples for the freezer and if mastitis comes back, get it checked for the bacteria responsible.”

Vets may also recommend changes to parlour routine. “It may seem like winter work, but without such measures and appropriate antibiotic treatment, lost revenue to mastitis and high levels of disease will remain.”