News & Advice

Mastitis at calving overwhelming? 

Jul 7, 2021 | Dairy

Calving is already a hectic time without the added stress of mastitis cases. Whether you use internal teat sealants or not, here are some top tips to help minimise mastitis at calving and during early lactation:

1. Make sure you’ve had your shed checked and it is functioning correctly. Even if you had your shed checked in the dry period and had issues corrected, don’t assume that things will function correctly once you are milking again – check the vacuum gauge, monitor cow behaviour during milking and look at teats immediately after cups off. If you have any concerns, speak to one of our Accredited Milk Quality Advisers.

2. Get your transition right! Metabolic issues can contribute to higher mastitis rates – down cows sit in mud and cows with low calcium and/or low energy have compromised immunity i.e. can’t fight infections as successfully.

3. Shift springing cows as often as practical so they calve on the cleanest area possible.

4. Collect freshly calved cows and pick up calves more than once a day. This is good for the calf and the cow and can reduce clinical mastitis by half!

5. Spend time with the colostrum cows during milking, more time spent checking them and finding clinical mastitis earlier will lead to better outcome. Strip them at every milking to check for any signs of clinical mastitis.

6. Rapid Mastitis Test (RMT) all cows before they leave the colostrum mob and only draft cows that are negative on RMT (i.e. have low somatic cell count) into the milkers.  Be aware that your contract with your milk supplier is that milk is withheld for 8 milkings for cows and 10 milkings for heifers after calving irrespective of their dry cow treatment.

  • a. If cows continue to be RMT positive after her colostrum WHP is complete, take a sterile milk sample and talk to your vet about a plan for these cows (plans differ depending on the cow/herd).

7. Find, mark, record, separate then treat (MRS T) any cows with clinical mastitis. This stops them infecting clean cows!

8. Collect sterile milk samples from any mastitis cows. Submit to your vet clinic or freeze for later. 

9. Ideally colostrum cows and mastitis cows should be kept in separate mobs. However, this is often not practical.

  • If colostrum cows and mastitis cows are together, cup and deal with all colostrum cows in the row or on the platform before you or the machines touch mastitis cows. 
  • You should wear gloves and regularly clean them when milking and treating mastitis cows.
  • As these cows are not in milk supply, they can be teat sprayed before and after milking. Teat spraying before milking is not recommended for the milking herd but for this high risk and high environmental challenge group of cows it is worth the extra effort and time. Ensure you wait for the teat spray to dry before cupping cows as the teat spray is only fully effective once the teat is dry.

10. Teat spray every cow after every milking! 

11. Give cows immediate access to feed in a clean space (grass break or feed pad) after milking so they stay standing while their teat ends close. Holding early lactation cows up on the race/exit area after milking creates a high risk for increasing mastitis activity.


Anexa info sheets you may find helpful:

How to RMT Rapid mastitis test.pdf

How to collect a milk sample.pdf


For more information regarding rearing milk quality, visit our milk quality page

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