Many of our dairy areas have had another big wet.
Rain events such as these substantially increase the risk of mastitis, and the challenge is to cope with water and mud everywhere, feeding the cows, as well as the extra risk of mastitis.
There are many reasons why the risk of mastitis increases, but probably the key issues are -
- Increased number of bacteria in the environment which are also more widely dispersed
- Greatly increased contact and contamination of teats with mud and faeces
- Chapping and cracking of teat skin and teat ends
- Effect of wet & muddy teats on milking machine performance
Therefore, we can substantially reduce the risk of mastitis by undertaking four key steps during these wet periods -
1. Wash & dry all teats before cups go on
Wash all teats with running water and then dry with one paper towel per cow before cups go on.
This is highly effective at reducing the contamination on teats, but will generally require either extra time at milking, or an extra person in the dairy for a few milkings whilst the mud continues to contaminate teats.
You will probably be surprised at how much dirt and contamination comes off the teats on the paper towel even after washing with running water.
Have a look at the two cows above - which teats do you think will be lower risk for mastitis?
2. Strip test all cows daily
The earlier that you find, treat and isolate any clinical cases that do occur, the higher your chance of cure, and the lower the risk of spread to other cows or quarters.
So checking the herd daily during these days of very high risk will keep you on top of any clinical cases, but be careful to wear gloves, and minimise the amount of milk that gets on your hands - you don't want to be the cause of spread!
And if you find a clinical case, be sure to change gloves, or at the very least, wash and disinfect them.
3. Concentrate on achieving 100% coverage with teat spray
Teat disinfection is the most important mastitis control task in the dairy at any time, so if ever there is a time when you need to get it 100% right, it will be now!
We always recommend using a Ready-To-Use (RTU) product, but especially at times like this when you can't afford the risk of anything not being 100% right, and the quality of water available for mixing may well be affected anyway
4. Keep teats as clean as possible for the first hour after milking
It is about an hour after milking before most teat ends have closed, so this is the highest risk period for new environmental infections.
Manage your dairy exit, choice of laneways and paddock/feeding area to minimise the chance of cows "dragging" teats through mud and faeces, or splashing it up onto their udders & teats.
Keep cows standing after milking by ensuring they have feed to go to - otherwise they are likely to lie down and camp until the feed arrives, and you don't want them lying down in this highly contaminated environment in that first hour if you can avoid it!
More information -