We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be beholden of it!

A visit to a farm to establish why the farmer was running a high cell count, his remark was that’s how it’s all ways been and that why we don’t bother, asked if the milking machine was tested regular his comment was that it was tested 6 monthly and all is well, asked if the machine was tested dynamically the answer was that the dairy engineer said it would be a waste of money!

Most mastitis infections are related to conditions that expose the teat end to bacteria (e.g., contaminated teatcup liners, common wash or dry cloths, milkers’ hands, dirt or manure in dirty free stalls, muddy environment) and to situations that make it easier for these bacteria to penetrate the teat canal (e.g., squawking or slipping teatcup liners, flooded milk tubes or claws). They travel into the mammary gland where the infection causes an inflammatory response that can cause destruction of milk-secreting cells and release of leukocytes or somatic cells. The bacteria that usually cause mastitis are: Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus agalactiae, environmental streptococci, and coliforms. The most successful mastitis control programs concentrate on identifying and eliminating those conditions that expose the teat end to bacteria, assist their penetration through the teat canal, or interfere with the body’s immune system. Also they regularly monitor the herd’s mastitis status.

All of the bacteria listed above can be minimized by proper milking technique, combined with a properly designed and maintained milking system, and environmental conditions that allow cows to remain clean, dry, and comfortable. To minimize mastitis problems and to milk cows more effectively, attention must be paid to cow preparation, stimulation of milk let-down, and procedures used to apply or remove teat cups. From 1962-65, scientists with the National Institute for Research in Dairying in Reading, England, conducted two large field experiments involving 29 herds and 2200 cows and found that a pre-milking hygiene routine of disinfectant udder wash, individual towels, disinfecting rubber gloves worn by milkers, and teat dipping reduced new infections by 44%. In addition to these practices, pasteurization of teatcup clusters with hot water (185 degrees for 5 seconds) reduced new infections by 58%. The general goals for most herds should be to recover all of the milk that cows are bred and fed to produce in as short a period of time as necessary while minimizing effects on udder health and milk composition. However, many dairy farms pay too little attention to the importance of proper milking practices and routine.

A milking –time test was undertaken the vacuum at the claw was very low, the milkability was poor and unit on time was shocking.

If you believe that you can’t change then live with your mistakes.

Keep your cows clean

What is the most common question dairy farmers ask when I visit their farm. I get mastitis but it’s only “environmental”.

It’s not rocket science “KEEP the COWS CLEAN “It takes a lot of work keeping dairy cows clean. Not only does it take a lot of work, but it is also very important. So how do you do it?

If your cows live in a cubicle house. It has open feed areas, various locations for fresh drinking water and stalls for the cows to rest. There is plenty of room for the cows to move around and come and go as they please, choosing which stall they want to use. You might be surprised to know that some cows prefer the same stall every day. They will even go as far as to push another cow out of the stall.

Keep the bedding fresh and dry this should be done daily every milking, remove any manure and re-bed and fill the cow stalls. In addition to the new bedding, clean the shed on a daily basis. “The old twice a day chore is gone”

 If you milk cows three times a day. While they are being milked, clean the shed and alley’s. All the manure should be removed from around the corners, edges and around water troughs if you see manure remove it! don’t walk past. It’s just not the case of sitting on a tractor and moving the manure into the lagoon, or taking scrappers for granted.

The cubicles in which the cows rest should all be hand-raked. All manure has to be removed and the bedding levelled out to keep the area comfortable and clean,

So why do you do this? Importantly, it is better for their health. If your cow’s feet are covered in manure, she lies down when she gets up she rubs her feet on her teats and covers them in pathogens.

 Cows need to have a dry and clean environment to protect them from illnesses like mastitis, a painful inflammation. To try to help them avoid mastitis you have to work very hard to make sure our cows have the cleanest environment possible.

Take a look at your cows and ask yourself are my cows as clean as they can be?

Antimicrobial drugs

An undesired consequence of the use of antimicrobial drugs in cattle is the presence of drug residues  in the milk of lactating animals. In lactating dairy cattle, this translates into production losses due to withholding of nonsaleable waste milk containing drug residues. To avoid discarding this valuable product while reducing feed costs, many dairies feed waste milk to preweaned calves.
Regardless of the financial advantages of feeding waste milk to calves, an important question is whether this practice can affect the calves’ health and result in unnecessary selection of antibiotic resistant bacteria that could reduce successful outcomes when treating infections with antibiotics.

Cephapirin is  a drug that can be found in drugs used commercially for treatment of cows with mastitis . Mastitis treatment is the most common use of antibiotics on dairy farms; therefore it is not surprising that most drug residues in waste milk are probably a consequence of treating cows with mastitis. This finding highlights even further the importance of management efforts to reduce the cases of mastitis in the herd,

Cows with chronic mastitis problems

Cows with chronic mastitis problems act as a reservoir of infection for the rest of the herd, they cost you money in treatment costs and lost milk production, and they spend more time in the hospital shed requiring time-consuming care – increasing your time. Cows that should be considered for culling include:

  • Cows with persistently high SCCs.
  • Cows that do not respond to treatment and continue to flare-up repeatedly with clinical mastitis.
    Cows with infections that persist in spite of dry cow treatment.
    Cows with mycoplasma mastitis. Of course, other factors must be considered before culling (type of infection, milk yield, replacement options, etc.) but, many times removing a few highly problematic cows will yield big dividends on your SCC report and will be well worth the loss in the long run. Culling should never be considered a substitute for solving the underlying problem with high SCCs or increased cases of clinical mastitis on your dairy. Culling is just one component to a comprehensive mastitis control plan.