Autumn Mastitis

This autumn is leaving dairy herds struggling with seasonal mastitis incidences, Mastitis cases occur to varying degrees in different herds as you try to reduce the risk. However, this season, cases of mastitis suddenly increase, or in some low incidence herds they recur, in autumn,

Stocking density,Warm, humid weather, Flies, Environmental pathogens.

Autumn becomes a struggle  with high somatic cell counts and mastitis cases. These cows are exposed to the conditions above , dirty gate ways don’t help during  this transition period . Strep uberis, coliform  also e.coli.  environmental pathogens are  mainly responsible.

Strep. uberis causes both clinical and subclinical mastitis, that may be easy to cure or very difficult. It can be spread both in the parlour, during milking times and picked up through the dry period. Clinical cases can be very persistent and difficult to cure and subclinical cases can even go unnoticed, but in both cases infection in one cow poses a risk of infection to another cow; once present it can easily spread throughout the herd.

E coli is the most prevalent environmental pathogen causing mastitis in dairy cows.
It is present in large numbers in faeces, meaning that dirty bedding and lying in yards are big risk factors. E coli can cause a range of mastitis presentations, from a simple clinical mastitis that self-cures, through to toxic mastitis.
A “simple” E coli mastitis results after rapid multiplication of the bacteria in the mammary gland. This results in large migration of white bloods cells into the quarter, raising the somatic cell count and promptly eliminating the infection.

Coliform bacteria are normal inhabitants of soil and the intestines of cows. They accumulate
and multiply in manure, polluted water, dirt, and contaminated bedding. Research has shown
that coliform numbers of 1,000,000 or more per gram of bedding increase the likelihood of an
udder infection and clinical mastitis.

optimise cleanliness of the cows as they come in for milking pre dipping prior to unit placement may help .The warm, wet autumn increased wet areas around gateways and flies may be a factor, perfect for the increase and growth of pathogens

If cows are in at night , grazed in day , improve bedding of cubicles use lime to dry beds keep passage ways clean .Faeces tends to be looser, which means the cows’ legs and udders are dirtier, improve feeding .



Traditionally, the recommendation to dairy producers has been to “milk ALL cows as completely as possible at every milking.” This recommendation has been revised due to recent research and field experience. It is impossible to milk a cow completely dry; there will always be some milk in the udder even after “complete” milk out because she is constantly making milk.
Overmilking is a matter of concern because it may affect teat condition and udder health. In the past, it was believed that all milk needed to be removed from the udder to maximize milk yield. However, breeding for high milk yields has provided cows with a high alveolar capacity. Due to this, cows are more efficient as milk producers.
Overmilking starts when the milk flow to the teat cistern is less than the flow out of the teat canal. Mouthpiece chamber vacuum typically increases during overmilking and fluctuations become larger. If the vacuum in the teat cistern is higher than beneath the teat end for short periods of time, the reverse pressure gradients across the teat canal may increase bacterial invasion of the teat cistern. Reverse pressure gradients occur only during milking of empty teats (Rasmussen et al., 1994), and overmilking will therefore increase the possibility of bacteria entering the teat. Teat end health is also greatly affected by overmilking. Hyperkeratosis of the teat is often experienced in herds with long unit on times.

Adjustable Speed Vacuum Pump Controller

VSD controllers can meet or exceed the vacuum stability of conventional regulators if they are installed and adjusted optimally. However, installation and adjustment of VSD systems does require greater skill on the part of the installer than conventional regulation systems. “you have been Warned ” The reduction in noise levels achieved by VSD control systems is substantial. Noise reduction is achieved by reducing the noise generated by the vacuum pump (by running at lower speed) ( Some vacuum pumps are not effective at low speeds , drilling a hole in the airline is NOT the solution )as well as eliminating the considerable noise generated by the air admission of conventional regulators. This noise reduction makes for a much better work environment for both cows and humans. The energy saved by using VSD controllers is considerable, averaging 56%, with up to 87% savings observed on some systems. VSD controllers also reduce the starting current of large electric motors, which may be a significant advantage when operated on some power distribution systems.

Having excessive leaks from your machine will increase pump speed and reduce the benefits of savings and vacuum stability .

The Milking Machine and Mastitis

Some key performance indicators for milking systems and milking performance

Milking Machine
Average claw vacuum
35-42 kPa
Maximum claw vacuum fluctuation
10 kPa
Average milk flow
2.3 – 4.1 kgs/min
Use of manual mode of milking (when automatic detachers are used)
5% of milkings
“D” phase of the pulsation cycle
At least 150-200 ms preferably 250 ms
Milking Prep
Premilking teat dip contact time
30 seconds before dry wipe
Prep-lag time (time from stimulation to milking unit attachment)
60 to 120 seconds
Milking unit attachment time
3 to 8 minutes (depending on milk production) not to exceed 8 mins
teats with at least 75% coverage with post-milking teat dip ,Cover the whole teat.

Research: Bedding Types and Milk Quality

Research at the University of Wisconsin indicated that large Wisconsin dairy farms that used inorganic bedding had greater productivity and better milk quality compared with herds using other bedding types.
Fresh and recycled sand and forestry byproducts (such as sawdust and wood shavings) are the most common types of bedding materials used on large Wisconsin dairy farms, but a small number of the largest herds use recycled manure products. As compared with organic bedding materials, use of sand bedding has been associated with reduced exposure to bacteria. Recycling bedding on-farm may provide economic opportunities for dairy producers. However, some recycled bedding materials (such as manure and recycled sand) harbor greater number of bacteria. The greater numbers of bacteria have been associated with increased numbers of bacteria on teats of cows exposed to these materials

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.