13 February 1998


MASTITIS and cell counts should be responsible for culling no more than 5% of the herd in any year, says Axient mastitis vet, Elizabeth Berry.

"But it is important chronic offenders are culled, as these are a source of infection for the rest of the herd.

"Any cow with three cases in a quarter or five cases in any of her quarters in a lactation must be culled," she advises.

Keeping mastitis and cell counts under control requires a good milking routine, which includes teat dipping, dry cow therapy for all cows, milking machine testing and repair. Cows that suffer mastitis need prompt detection and treatment, says Miss Berry. She recommends sending milk samples of cows with clinical cases or high cell counts for bacteriology.

"This identifies why the infection is there and helps establish what treatment is needed. Bacteriology also shows when a high cell count cow is a risk to other cows."

Always milk contagious mastitis cows with a separate claw-piece, milk last or flush through clusters, she adds. Contagious mastitis – caused by Strep agalactiae, Strep dysgalactiae or Staph aureus bugs – spreads rapidly between cows, so discuss treatment and culling of persistent offenders with your vet.

When mastitis identified is environmental type bugs, such as E coli or Strep uberis, changes to management or housing may be needed, she advises. Cows need clean beds, especially dry cows and fresh calvers, and where necessary try to reduce pressure on housing.

Bought in cows can also introduce mastitis into the herd, she warns. Ensure they have low cell counts when possible or test them on arrival. A bacteriology test, costing less that £5, is worthwhile.

"But for a quick check use a California Milk Testing kit. Then take action or return the cow when the results show unacceptable level of infection."


&#8226 No more than 5% of herd a year.

&#8226 Cull persistent offenders.

&#8226 Control using good hygiene.

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