News & Advice

Managing Late Lactation Mastitis

Apr 3, 2024 | Dairy, Milk Quality

Late lactation mastitis can be difficult to manage. Many farms experience an increase in bulk tank somatic cell count towards the end of the season as cows start to produce less milk. This means there is less milk volume to dilute out the number of somatic cells in the bulk milk tank.

Somatic cells are immune cells and they can increase due to new intra-mammary infections in late lactation. Sometimes a rise in bulk tank somatic cell count is related to nutritional or other stress factors in late lactation. Often this will go hand in hand with a large number of clinical cases. If a clinical mastitis case is undetected in the main herd, it will markedly increase the bulk tank somatic cell count.


Late lactation treatment difficulties

Late lactation mastitis can be more difficult to treat with lactation cow therapy. Milk sampling late-season cases will tell you what type of mastitis bug you are dealing with and whether it is likely to be difficult to treat.  Cows with high somatic cell counts (over 200 000 cells) in late lactation that have had repeated high cell counts throughout the season, have had more than 2-3 cases of clinical mastitis, and are over 7 years old should be seriously considered for culling.  A prolonged course of antibiotics in the form of dry cow therapy may be enough to cure these cows, such that they come back into the herd in the new season with a low somatic cell count.  More often than not, farmers who ‘hang onto’ these problem cows year after year and have lax culling policies end up with more mastitis (subclinical and clinical).  The problem cows act as a source of infection for the rest of the herd.

Drying off high cell count and problem cows earlier than the main herd may keep your bulk milk in check for longer. Strict culling policies and prompt treatment of any clinical cows is also recommended. For more information and advice, talk with your vet or one of Anexa’s advanced mastitis vets.


Other resources you may find helpful:

How to collect a milk sample.pdf

Milk volumes dropping?


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