News & Advice

Increase your chances of detecting clinical mastitis early

Sep 3, 2018 | Dairy, Dairy Animal Health & Welfare, Milk Quality

John Penry, Veterinarian and Researcher, Anexa Vets

Clinical mastitis cases during the calving period and early lactation are virtually impossible to avoid. The cows immune system is compromised for around 2-3 weeks after calving and the environmental challenge to the teat-end defences can be high. Smart SAMM has a trigger for action of 8 cases/100 cows/mth which indicates that the clinical mastitis rate below this level is common. Research on how long a newly detected clinical case has been in the “clinical phase” is limited but suggests that many cows can show signs of visible inflammation (flecks or clots in the milk, swelling in the affected quarter) for 24-36 hrs prior to be detected (and treated) during a milking. We all are aware that a missed clinical mastitis case will contribute in excess of 2-5 million cells/ml in additional cell count so finding these cases in a timely manner lowers the risk of an increase in bulk tank cell count. 
One strategy which can be useful is to check one quarter per milking during the calving period. If the same quarter is checked in each cow for an individual milking, over 4 milkings the entire udder of each cow will have been checked. While this appears to be a significant additional workload, it does quickly become part of the milking routine and is often a better, and lower risk alternative, to stripping all teat in all cows after clots have been detected on the filter sock. Remember to always wear milking gloves while this process is being undertaken. It is also a good idea to spray your gloves with the teat disinfectant being used in the dairy at the end of each row, or half a turn if milking in a rotary shed. 

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