We recently had a final year veterinary student, Emma Liersch from Charles Sturt University, doing some of her practical placement work with us at Dairy Focus.

clinical-caseIt's been about 6 years since Countdown's last estimate of the cost of a clinical case of mastitis, so to give Emma a project as part of her work with us, we gave her the task to research and recalculate this cost.

Emma enthusiastically worked her way through the various cost elements, researching each using the available science and also industry contacts such as factory field officers, vets, etc.

The end result is that, not surprisingly, the cost of a typical clinical case of mastitis has risen in the last 6 years – up from $230 in 2007, to about $270 now in 2013.


  Cost Item $
  Cost of treatment
     Intramammary antibiotics - 3 tubes @ $5.50
     Injectable antibiotics - 1 in 10 cases @ $18
     Vet visit - 1 in 100 cases @ $175
     Extra time in the shed - 5 min/milking x 12 @ $25/hr
  Discarded milk  - 7 days @ 25 l/day @ $0.40/litre 67 70
  Decreased yield for remainder of lactation
  5700 litre cow, 3.4% reduction, 305 days @ $0.40/litre
76 78
  Risk of mortality - 1 in 150 cases @ $1500 5 10
  Risk of culling - 7 in 100 @ $900 changeover 35 70
  Risk of contaminating vat with antibiotics - 1 in 750 case
  4750 litres @ $0.40/litre
1 3
  Total $229 $277

Whilst every clinical case is in some way different to another, and costs will vary from case to case and farm to farm, this is a "ball park" figure for a typical clinical case on a typical farm, and is best used to give an indication of the economic impact of clinical mastitis on a farm.

In fact, during discussions, many farmers have considered this cost estimate to be conservative, especially for higher producing herds.

A simple way of thinking about this cost is that every 4 clinical cases of mastitis now cost a farm over $1000.

Thus clinical mastitis remains a significant cost, but it is not possible to have a dairy farm and have absolutely no mastitis at all – so how much mastitis is too much mastitis?

Countdown has given us a clear set of trigger points for this question –

“Your herd has a significant problem if there are more than five clinical cases per 100 cows in the first month of lactation, or two clinical cases per 100 cows in subsequent months of lactation.”

If every 4 clinical cases cost over $1000, then it is clearly a significant expense for a farm to be at, or above, these trigger points!

Yet it is perfectly achievable for Australian dairy farms to be below these trigger points.

The easiest way to assess your herd against these triggers is to obtain a Countdown Mastitis Focus report.

If you are unable to obtain a Mastitis Focus report, then some basic arithmetic using your case records will work this out.

If you would like any more information, or to ask about your situation, just call us at the Dairy Focus office.

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