Mastitis control in summer

September 07, 2018

Hot, sunny periods can be a testing time for the dairy cow and the herdsman.

Dairy farmers have to deal with irritation in the parlor, prolonged milking times because of the irritation, and most importantly, contamination of the udder leading to mastitis.

Many cases of summer mastitis are not classified as environmental or contagious; they are most likely caused by flies. “August bag,” as it is commonly known in much of the United Kingdom, can result in the loss of a quarter, or in severe cases, the whole udder.

To understand how the humble fly manages to cause these problems, it is worth looking at what the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board has to say about basic mastitis:

“Mastitis is the inflammation of the mammary gland and udder tissue and is a major endemic disease of dairy cattle. It usually occurs as an immune response to bacterial invasion of the teat canal by a variety of bacterial sources present on the farm. Mastitis can also occur as a result of chemical, mechanical, or thermal injury to the cow's udder.”

Because of their nature, flies can carry disease and bacteria, and it is not hard to see how this can be easily be carried onto the skin or udder of the cow.

What can dairy farmers do to prevent summer mastitis?

Neogen Europe’s Martin Partington offers three tips on how to prevent summer mastitis:

  • Try to give cows shade, but keep them physically away from woodland areas, which are a breeding ground for flies.

  • Treat the animal with an appropriate fly prevention tag or spray, which can be applied at milking.

  • Use a teat sanitizer that has a strong fragrance, such as Synodex, which may help to avoid disease transmission from flies and other insects.

It is also worth considering changing from a spray to a high viscosity, film-forming teat dip product such as Synofilm or Synobarrier. These dips create a barrier on the teat, to make it harder for the fly to penetrate the skin.

Dipping may take a little extra time at milking compared to spraying, but it is worth remembering that dips use two-thirds the amount of product compared to sprays.

Dry cows and in-calf heifers also need to be considered. There has been an industry shift towards dipping both groups every day, for two weeks before calving, or when they start to show a bag, to help reduce risks of summer mastitis.

With potential problems arising from summer mastitis, using an appropriate teat dip in a mastitis prevention program is worth the effort.

How Neogen BioSecurity teat dips can help in a mastitis prevention program

Neogen BioSecurity has a comprehensive range of teat dips specifically designed, tested and industry-proven for preventing mastitis and disease prevention. Contact us today to learn more about dairy farm hygiene.





Category: Animal Safety, Dairy, Veterinary Diagnostics, Animal Health, Veterinary Instruments