General

Wouldn't it be fantastic to think that mastitis could be a thing of the past!

clinical-caseUnfortunately 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?

It is now October, most of the spring herd has calved, you've done silage, and you may have done one, or maybe two herd tests since the start of calving.

So, is there anything to worry about?Udder web

Well, maybe there is a group of freshly calved cows that you've seen on your herd test with high cell counts! Or even worse, it could be some first calf heifers with high cell counts!! All that work rearing these heifers, and now they are infected!

What can be done? Should these cows & heifers be treated?

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.

We previously described the first results of the large mastitis survey in Australia conducted by Dairy Focus and funded by Pfizer Animal Health, which found that 90% of clinical mastitis was due to four major bacteria - Strep uberis, Staph aureus, E. coli & Strep dysgalactiae.

But are any particular bacteria more common at different stages of lactation? Does the age of the cow make any difference?

Craig Gallpen decided that it was time to do something about the hassle and cost of dealing with mastitis in their 450 cow herd that milks three-times-a-day in the Riverina.

craig gallpen webCraig was not only disappointed with the cost of treating clinical cases, but culling due to mastitis was affecting their ability to achieve and maintain herd numbers.

Dairy Focus always applies the Countdown principles and guidelines over five key areas of mastitis risk – drying-off, calving, lactation, environment and culling.

We started by getting milk cultures from high cell count cows and clinical cases. These showed a mixed bag of contagious and environmental bacteria (especially Strep uberis and E. coli).

Surveys of mastitis are relatively rare in Australia, so the opportunity to do a major survey across a number of farms and regions for a whole year is something not to be missed.

Earlier this year Dairy Focus completed a major mastitis survey that offers a unique insight into mastitis in the Australian dairy industry.

The survey will have significant benefits for the industry as a whole, as well as for individual farms.

Instigated and funded by Pfizer Animal Health, the survey included 66 farms across South Eastern Australia and resulted in over 4000 milk samples from both clinical cases of mastitis, and subclinical mastitis cows, being sent for culture and sensitivity over a twelve month period.

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