Hampton Veterinary Centre Hampton Veterinary Centre Hampton Veterinary Centre

Mastitis

Mastitis rates in the UK are still increasing despite the constant flow of new intra-mammary tubes and systemic antibiotics. We have had a recent stint of high cell counts and more clinical cases possibly due to the hot weather and tightly stocked pastures because of the poor grass growth. We are also seeing a reasonable incidence of summer mastitis case with the late emergence of flies this year.

Whilst all this is frustrating you would be forgiven for not predicting it and hopefully this will be a short lived problem. In which case treatment is the key area for the affected cows – for their own health and welfare and to prevent spread of contagious pathogens to other cows within the herd. 

Identifying the pathogens on your farm is crucial for deciding which mastitis tube to use. Sterile samples (in sterile milk pots) should be taken from fresh mastitis cases and high cell count cows before treatment and stored in the freezer. When a few samples have been collected (normally around ten) these can be passed on to us for culture to see which bacteria are involved and the antibiotic they are sensitive to. If you milk record with CIS or NMR we can use the data available to us on each cow to formulate a plan for specific cases and your herd in general. 

In addition to antibiotics, it is important for your cows’ welfare to treat the inflammation in the udder. This often presents with a fever, hard swelling and heat in the udder. In severe cases this can result in either the loss of the quarter or even gangrene. A recent study has found non-steroidal antiinflammatories to be crucial in the treatment of mastitis. Metacam® used alongside milking tubes, in particular (more so than other antiinflammatories), has been shown to significantly lower somatic cell counts, reduce culling rates and improve cow health. Reducing the cows’ pain from the udder means that they eat better, boosting their immunity and increasing sure rates.

Ask one of the vets for more information on Metacam®.