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Mastitis, an udder disease of dairy cows with worldwide significance, is often considered economic perspective, to be the most important disease of dairy cattle.  While this may not be the case in every herd, it is generally accepted to be true across the industry as a whole.  Therefore, reducing the prevalence of mastitis should be a primary focus of every dairy farmer/herd manager.  Consider: on average a clinical case of mastitis costs approximately £250.

Data capture and analysis

Mastitis can never be totally eliminated, no matter what practices are implemented and there can be sporadic outbreaks with no apparent reason.  This can lead to a sense of frustration among farmers, as they may feel that no matter what they do, there is unlikely to be any improvement in the level of mastitis in their herds.  However, where farms have milk recording data, good records of clinical mastitis cases and ideally, some information on bacteriology of milk samples from cows with clinical and sub-clinical mastitis, it is possible through analysis of this data to find trends and draw conclusions as to when cows are getting infected.  It is possible to identify whether the main problem is from the dry period or lactation period and whether the main causative organisms are of environmental origin, or from the udder of already infected cows, (contagious mastitis, mainly parlour spread).  With such a diagnosis and by scrutinising management practices associated with the diagnosis, it is often possible to see a marked improvement in udder health.  By making a few targeted changes, the likelihood of new infections occurring in the first instance should decrease, but it does take time and patience for changes to work through to improved results.

Targets for mastitis and somatic cell counts

There are several targets that have been developed in relation to mastitis and somatic cell counts, (SCC’s).  However, without data recording to obtain relevant information, you cannot know how your herd is performing in this critical area.  “If you don’t measure, you can’t manage”.  Click on the ‘mastitis key performance indicators’ file for more information on targets and how the Future Herd measures up to these targets.  Consider: “Do you have your own figures for these parameters and if so, how do they compare to the targets?”

CAFRE Dairy Herd

The CAFRE Dairy Herd at Greenmount is no different from any other dairy herd, in that mastitis is a constant battle, but also sporadic in nature.  For more information on management practices implemented to reduce the likelihood of infection and consequently clinical mastitis occurring see the associated pdf files below.