On a typical Australian dairy farm, the milking process contributes about 60% of the risk of mastitis - the remaining 40% of risk being due to environmental factors, calving management, drying-off, culling and cow factors.

Obviously the milking process is critically important in the case of contagious (or "cow associated") mastitis where these particular bacteria only spread during the milking process, and never in the environment.

However, the milking process also significantly influences the risk of environmental mastitis - after all, cows leaving the dairy with damaged teat ends and/or open orifices are going to be at a much higher risk of environmental mastitis infections as well as contagious mastitis.

The milking process is a combination of cows, people and machines all working together in the dairy.

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Dairy Focus has developed a unique tool to assess the mastitis risk in a dairy during the milking process - in every Dairy Focus Mastitis Risk Assessment of a dairy, each element of potential mastitis risk in that dairy shed during milking is assessed, scored and rated.

For example, poor teat end condition is often a significant risk factor for mastitis. This is assessed using the Countdown Downunder teat scoring method, and the result is then given a mastitis score and is also rated in terms of mastitis risk as "Low", Medium", "High" or "Very High".

Each element of mastitis risk is assessed in a similar way, and the final result is the total of the individual scores to give a "Total Risk Score" and an "Overall Mastitis Risk Rating".

The higher the Total Risk Score, the higher the risk of mastitis in a dairy!

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In this example, a real farm (with the name changed) has achieved a Total Risk Score of 27 points and an Overall Mastitis Risk Rating of "Medium".

This is a measure of the risk of mastitis spread, or even having a mastitis or cell count "blowout" in the right circumstances.

And because a key risk factor in this particular dairy is poor teat end condition, wet and muddy weather is likely to be a key "trigger factor".

However, the Dairy Focus Mastitis Risk Assessment has highlighted exactly which elements of mastitis risk we need to work on to lower the overall risk of mastitis in this dairy.

From this, a plan was developed to address the key issues, and lower the risk of mastitis in the dairy.

And if their Total Risk Score subsequently became less than 15 points, they would achieve a "Low" overall mastitis risk rating, and they would know their risk of mastitis had substantially decreased; in fact, they could go into a period of wet weather with confidence that their mastitis risk is "low".

Whilst we can never have no mastitis at all, farms with a "Low" overall mastitis risk rating have very low levels of mastitis (see "A new record low risk score"), and are often relatively unaffected by "trigger" factors such as wet, muddy weather.

A Dairy Focus Mastitis Risk Assessment is done during one milking - and the result will change the way you think about the risk of mastitis in your dairy!

Whilst you can always have a stand-alone Dairy Focus Mastitis Risk Assessment, it is also a very important component of the Dairy Focus Mastitis Control System.

For more information or to organise a Dairy Focus Mastitis Risk Assessment for your dairy, call the office now on (03) 58590706 or email here.

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