Choosing the Right Bedding Type to Reduce Environmental Mastitis

Bacterial exposure at the teat end is a primary source of exposure to potential mastitis pathogens. Reducing this exposure is an important aspect of controlling environmental mastitis. It is especially important reduce exposure to Gram negative bacteria (such as coliforms) because these bacteria often result in increased clinical cases of mastitis even if the SCC of the herd is low. Since teats become contaminated with environmental bacteria through contact, choosing the right type of bedding for your herd is critical. Teats may be in direct contact with bedding materials for 12 to 14 hours per day, making bedding a primary reservoir for environmental pathogens.
When a cow lies down, her udder and teats come into contact with whatever she is lying on. The type of bedding and how that bedding is kept clean are critical issues for control. The ideal bedding for limiting environmental mastitis is a clean inorganic material. If kept clean, sand allows urine to drain down away from the cow, and is less likely to have bacteria growing in it than an organic bedding. However, sand can be expensive and it is more difficult to eliminate the feces-spoiled waste, compared with organic forms.

The primary forms of organic beddings used today are sawdust and straw. In addition to straw, other types of plant materials from wastage of crop harvesting have been used and some are still used (such as corn cobs). Organic beddings soak up fluids from urine, but also are good media for bacterial growth. Feces-spoiled sawdust or straw can be a major source of environmental pathogens for causing mastitis. In addition, green sawdust from uncured wood can harbor some types of Klebsiella bacteria, even before it becomes soiled with feces.
Large amounts of bedding have also been obtained from mechanical liquid-solid separation of manure on some farms in the West. Yet the Midwestern climate is not as arid and the risk of increased mastitis increases in bedding that contains more moisture. Research data on the use of manure solids as bedding material for dairy cows, milk quality on farms using solids, the chemical and bacteriological characteristics of solids, and methods of obtaining solids for bedding in the Midwest are still underway. Though, it appears that excellent cow preparation at milking time, sanitation of milking equipment, cow hygiene, adequate dry cow housing, very low bedding moisture, and bedding/stall management are critical in maintaining excellent udder health when using recycled manure solids for bedding and making it work. These practices are important when using any type of bedding and even more so with recycled manure solids.

Somatic cell count targets

Controlling cell counts in the dairy herd by following endorsed practices would be simple, but unfortunately due to the intrinsic variability of conditions on dairy farms in the UK and the nature of mastitis incidence, the problem of high Somatic Cell Counts can be particularly mystifying for many herds that meet best practice recommendations but fail to significantly lower cell counts.
SCC target for all dairy herds may be suitable or in many cases achievable. However, due to an increasing awareness of cow welfare and pressure to improve milk quality, it is obvious that most dairy farmers have to attempt to improve levels of both clinical and subclinical mastitis in their herds, and to benefit from the advantages they can receive for producing milk with lower SCCs.
The generally-quoted aims for mastitis control and milk quality on UK dairy farms are:
A mastitis incidence rate of no more than 30 cases per 100 cows per year.
A mastitis persistence rate of no more than 20% of the herd affected per year.
A mastitis re-occurrence rate of less than 10% of the total number of cases.
A herd-average Somatic Cell Count below 150,000 cells/ml.
An average Bactoscan result of below 5,000.
In general terms, rule of thumb is for every 100,000 cells/ml increase in the herd bulk SCC, there is an 8-10% increase in the proportion of cows infected in the herd. Persistently high individual cow SCC results can indicate chronic mastitis problems.

Cutting Corners on a Milking Machine Test Does Not Pay

Recent visits to three new customers were very concerning, each farm had recently had a Static milking machine test and all requirements of the test report passed.
Each Farm had issues with Cell Counts Bactoscan and excessive Mastitis incidence (50%)
All farms had poor effective reserves
High vacuum levels to compensate for the low effective reserve.
Vacuum recovery tests were not compliant
The jar system took well over six seconds to stabilise
The Vacuum controller was sited incorrectly with the sensing tube pointing in the wrong direction.
These are just some of the faults found. on one farm they had spent over twenty five thousand pounds on a cluster flush and the clusterflush was fitted on a badly tested machine.
Milking machines are used 5-6 or more hours every day. Broken-down machines or machines operating inefficiently cost in reduced milk, time, damaged udders, and reduced milk quality. Regular milking machine testing will allow performance at high efficiency.
It really doesn’t pay to have a poor inadequate milking machine test. Check out this link

The Milking System

Bovine mastitis is typically caused by microbial infection of the udder, but the factors responsible for this condition are varied. One potential cause is the milking system,
Milking performance of milking machines that matches the production capability of dairy cows is important in reducing the risk of mastitis, particularly in high-producing cows.
The factors affecting mean claw vacuum are claw type, milk-meter and vacuum shut-off device
Correctly installed equipment reduces the risk of mastitis caused by inappropriate claw vacuum.
Thus, proper maintenance and operation of any milking system is a key aspect of successful milking.

Milkline vacuum stability in milking machine installations.

The direct connection between the transient vacuum drop and its cause could be established for most drops during milking observations. A high frequency of transient vacuum drops in the milkline was associated with a high level of mastitis and a high new infection rate as inferred from changes in somatic cell counts for individual cows. The frequency of vacuum drops during one milking is only a rough indication of the long-term vacuum stability
During milking the teat cup liner is the interface between the teat of a dairy cow and the milking system
Milking performance of milking machines that matches the production capability of dairy cows is important in reducing the risk of mastitis, particularly in high-producing cows.
Examination of the milking performance of the milking system with a milking-time test allows an evaluation of the performance that can cope with high producing cows, indicating the possibility of reducing the risk of mastitis caused by inappropriate claw vacuum.

Regulator Airline

Differences in vacuum levels between the receiver and regulator should not exceed 0.6kpa. The most common cause of ineffective vacuum regulation is an excessive vacuum difference between the receiver and regulator because of either improper regulator location or excessive restrictions in pipelines and fittings between these two components. Regulators mounted on branch lines often perform inefficiently unless the connecting lines are adequately sized to minimize frictional losses. Branch lines are fine as long as they are sized
Regulators mounted on or near the distribution tank often tend to oscillate because of the cyclic vacuum changes in pulsator airlines. Preferably, the regulator (or its sensor) should be connected near the sanitary trap so that it can sense, and quickly respond to, vacuum changes caused by “unplanned” air admission entering the system through the teatcups

Why Vacuum Level is important

Vacuum level impacts unit on time. “The higher the vacuum the higher the milking speed or so we think.
A Teat end exposed to or above (42 kPa).” Measurement should be taken at milking”
Along with an incorrect B phase will increase peak flow. However, this also increases liner compression. High liner compression will increase hyperkeratosis.

NMC add two additional points ; Five Point Plan
Now the Seven Point Plan
For decades, the 5 Point Plan for Mastitis Control served the dairy industry well, significantly reducing the number of clinical cases of mastitis, levels of bulk tank somatic cell count and prevalence of mastitis caused by contagious bacteria.
The long‐standing five points are:
1) Disinfect all teats at every milking
2) treat all cases of mass promptly and record data;
3) Use dry cow treatment on all cows;
4) cull all cows with three or more cases of mass;
And 5) maintain the milking machine properly.
The new plan adds two more points – milk a clean, dry and disinfected cow, and use nutrition, stimulants and vaccines to improve immunity