Wouldn't it be fantastic to think that mastitis could be a thing of the past!
Unfortunately that is unlikely to be the case any time soon.
Realistically, while we still milk cows, we are going to have to accept a level of mastitis – both as clinical cases and as high cell count cows (sub-clinical cases).
This means that mastitis is an ever-present risk - that is why at Dairy Focus we think of mastitis as a risk, and our goal is to make a farm "Low Risk" for mastitis.
But how much clinical mastitis is too much?
Countdown has given the Australian dairy industry a very useful set of trigger points which suggest that a problem may exist and that immediate action should be taken.
In terms of clinical cases, the triggers relate to the number of clinical cases at or near calving, and the number of clinical cases during lactation (i.e. in cows calved more than 14 days).
For clinical cases at calving, the trigger point is exceeded if you have -
- more than 3 clinical cases per 50 cows calved (i.e. cows that have a clinical case within the first 14 days after calving).
For clinical cases during lactation, the trigger point is exceeded if you have -
- more than 2 clinical cases per 100 cows during lactation (i.e. in cows that have been calved more than 14 days).
Just to be sure we are using these triggers properly, we should remember the definition of a clinical case given to us by Countdown -
"A case of clinical mastitis that requires treatment occurs when there is heat, swelling or pain in the udder, or there are changes in the milk (wateriness or clots) that persist for more than 3 squirts of milk".
Given that most herds are now likely to have finished calving the spring herd, farms should be aiming for a clinical case rate of less than 2% per month.
Our experience at Dairy Focus is that once farms become "low risk" for mastitis with an effective mastitis control program, the levels of mastitis that occur are well below these trigger points.
If you are exceeding these trigger levels on your farm, then it is likely that one, or more likely, several of your mastitis risk factors are not under control.
The key to dealing with that situation is to be able to identify firstly, "What are the mastitis risk factors on your individual farm?", and secondly, "How can you deal with them?".
It is here that your vet/mastitis adviser is likely to be able to help.
Tools like our Dairy Focus Mastitis Risk Assessment quickly help to identify the key mastitis risks and issues on your farm.
If you would like to have a chat about your situation, just give us a call at the Dairy Focus office, (03) 58590706.