Achieve Better Milk Together

Achieve a better quality of life, a more sustainable business, and healthier cows thanks to a win-win partnership with your farmers, mastitis prevention, and evidence-based mastitis therapy.

Achieve More With Your Farmers

A More Sustainable Business

In partnership with your farmers work to:

  • Develop long-term dairy farm management
  • Increase the milk quality and the value of the tank 
  • Establish a win-win partnership  contributing to enhanced herd management through regular communication and knowledge sharing.

A Better Quality of Life

A Better Quality of Life

Work together to achieve a better quality of life with fewer disruptions to daily routines and wasting less time.

Healthier Cows and Herds

Healthier Cows and Herd

Achieve healthier cows and herds, by working with clients to develop optimised treatment solutions based on livestock health data, available sources of reliable and relevant information, proven products, and established tools.

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Frequently asked questions about mastitis management

Veterinarians

Once your client has decided to call in your help to reduce somatic cell counts in the herd, you should follow a structured approach. First, you should determine whether it’s localised or dispersed, whether it’s chronic or not, and which group of animals is most affected. A decision diagram can help with a systematic approach.

This will determine the approach, e.g., whether you need to help your farmer to help reduce infection pressure on the farm and set up an effective farm treatment plan for mastitis, or whether it’s time for a dynamic (‘wet’) milking assessment to assess that the milker and milking machine are working properly. It also allows the expert to assess other factors affecting udder health, such as barn hygiene, nutrition, and the general health of cows.

Always remember the 5-point plan: infection pressure, resistance, milking, treatment, and monitoring.
Always remember the 5-point plan [link to blog]: infection pressure, resistance, milking, treatment and monitoring. Clinical mastitis is caused by bacteria entering the udder via the teat canal. Bacteria arrive at the teat canal via two pathways: from the environment of the cow (combat by reducing the infection pressure) or via the milk from another infected cow (treatment of infected cows). The bacteria usually enter the teat canal during or shortly after milking: ensure optimal milking technology and routines. Whether the teat infection will lead to mastitis or is successfully removed by the immune system, depends to an extend on the cow’s resistance. To manage and control udder health, you need to measure and monitor individual cows and the whole herd.
Manage and control udder health by using the five-point plan, starting with ‘milking’.

The five focus areas are – in no particular order – infection pressure, resistance, milking, treatment and monitoring. They can be remembered by the memory aid ‘I Really Must Tackle Mastitis’

Farmers and farmworkers love farm treatment plans! Together with your dairy farmer, start by having a conversation with the milker(s), to find out how clinical mastitis is diagnosed at this moment. Depending on the type of farm, samples and clinical history, make a list of the different types of mastitis to be tackled (e.g. “abnormal milk / mild mastitis / severe mastitis / sick cow with mastitis”) on this farm. Then:

  1. Describe the categories of mastitis in detail and in a way the milkers understand and can use;
  2. Describe the treatments for each (display in an area where all can see it)
  3. Make a list of the treatments and tools the farm should have (maximum and minimum), and arrange for a dedicated storage of medicines and equipment
  4. Train the milkers, including on good milking techniques and the approach to cows with mastitis, such as separating milk, marking & treating cows, monitoring and communication
  5. Plan ‘check of treatment plan and treatments’ on the calendar for herd health support, for the coming year

As a veterinarian, you can help your dairy farmer with advice for each individual cow on how and when to dry off – and whether to use dry cow tubes with or without antibiotics. When and how to dry off cows will depend on her udder health (including SCC), teat end score, history of mastitis, infection pressure on the farm, etc. See the blog Blanket or selective dry cow therapy?

When using blanket dry cow therapy, all quarters of all cows are treated with long-acting antimicrobials at dry off. This technique is widely used and allows curing and prevent mastitis, but worldwide there is a strong trend to reduce or phase out the preventive use of antibiotics.

Selective dry cow therapy will help reduce the use of antimicrobials at dry off without any detrimental effect on udder health or milk production – as long as the right herd and the right cows are selected for the right treatment and internal teat sealants only are used for healthy, untreated cows. Provide the farmer with a decision tree such as this one, to help determine when selective dry cow therapy is useful.

Hygiene and correct application procedures are particularly important if the cow is dried off without intramammary antibiotics (teat sealant alone). Your role as farm vet is to set up optimal treatment procedures, and then checking and training farm staff.
This question is easy to answer: always take milk samples, and definitely before treating! Teach your farmers how to take a milk sample correctly, and to identify and store each sample correctly.

Make a farm-specific plan for the analysis of milk samples, e.g. direct analysis in case of clinical mastitis, monthly analysis of all high cell count cows. When to test should be part of the farm treatment plan.

Contagious mastitis pathogens (Strep. agalactiae, Staph aureus, Mycoplasma…) spread from cow to cow. This primarily happens during milking. So good milking hygiene and optimal milking procedures are essential for prevention. Contagious infections are sometimes called milk-borne infections. Also flies can transport these bacteria and bring them to the entrance, orifice, of the teat canal. See the three pillars of successful milking.

 

Environmental pathogens (Strep. uberis, Strep. dysgalactiae, E. coli, Klebsiella…) live in the environment of the cow, mainly in the resting areas, and in the dirt of floors and walkways.


Whatever their origin, cows get infected during milking. Check the hygiene. Other origins such as contaminated teat dips, intramammary infusions, water used for udder preparation before milking, water ponds and mud holes have also been incriminated as incidental sources of infection. Flies can also carry environmental bacteria to the teat orifice.

Animal groups at higher risk of mastitis are:

  • Fresh cows (up to 30 DIM)
  • Heifers (first 2-3 months of lactation) – check mineral supply, udder oedema and stress

 

Furthermore, any animal with a reduced resistance due to underlying disease or feeding errors (ruminal acidosis) is at increased risk of mastitis. This can be checked by assessing the feed intake (rumen fill, feed selection), digestion (manure score) and body condition score.


Advise your farmer to give particular attention to fresh cows and heifers, and to regularly check the other animals as well (rumen fill, manure score, body condition score).


On farms with milk robots, farmers should regularly check the udder health of the herd (palpate all quarters for heat and swelling).


You can also use milk record data. For example, you can define attention cows based on the following:

  • cows with a SCC > 250.000/ml (first lactation cows > 150.000/200.000/ml)
  • cows with the highest recurrence of high SCC in the past 12 months;
  • cows with more than 2 cases of clinical mastitis last 12 months.

That is a huge question! Books have been written on communication, numerous trainings are available, and this is certainly something that you keep learning about during your entire life. Most farmers love to learn and improve their business. Here are some tips:

  1. Be specific and talk about everything:
    a. ask what the farmer’s goals are, for the farm and its processes
    b. after describing your services, ask what the farmer expects from you
  2. Work from data, work with structures, work with a plan. Use a plan-do-check-act (PDCA) approach, including planned checks and evaluations.
  3. Use a year planning. Start the year with goals and a plan, and end the year with an evaluation of this.

Pathogens can be identified by bacterial culture and sensitivity of milk samples. This can be done by:

  • A certified diagnostic laboratory. Results will be highly accurate and reliable, and will be able to detect rare strains and pathogens
  • The veterinary practice laboratory. As a farm vet, you will have the results as soon as they are available, and don’t need to wait for the results from the lab. This means results are faster available for the farmer, too.
  • On-farm testing. The major advantage is that most ‘cow-side tests’ are fast and practical. Although they suffice for the most common pathogens, they are less accurate and unable to detect specific strains.

It is important to discuss with your farmer when and how to take milk samples.

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