Practical steps to lower mastitis in the herd
As the saying goes, "prevention is better than cure". However, in order to know how best to prevent mastitis, you need to know how new infections happen in your herd, and why.
Very simply, mastitis is inflammation of the mammary gland caused by bacteria which have entered the udder through the teat canal. However, understanding the risk areas on your farm, such as where and how exposure to these bacteria occurs, is often where the challenge lies. To answer questions such as these, gathering the relevant information is key.
The following steps will help you to prevent new infections.
1.Sample all clinical cases
Knowing what bacteria are responsible for causing mastitis in your herd is essential if you want to take appropriate action to prevent new infections.
Should you focus on the practices within the parlour, to reduce the spread of contagious bacteria? Or does more attention need to be given to the environment, as the primary source of bacteria?
While new research tells us that not all bacterial strains can be strictly classified in the traditional 'contagious' or 'environmental' sense, knowing what mastitis pathogens are responsible for infection in your herd is an essential part of the jigsaw.
Culturing milk from animals with clinical mastitis early in the season, and not just from animals with chronic or repeat infections later in the year, provides more useful information on your herd.