Mastitis management tool launched

One of the largest costs in dairy farming is the prevention and treatment of mastitis, now there is a new tool available to help dairy farmers control the endemic cattle disease.

The mastitis management tool launched from a collaboration between AHDB Dairy and the University of Nottingham helps farmers make informed decisions on managing the condition in their dairy herd.


Mastitis Symptoms & Cause

Mastitis is one of the biggest on going battles for any dairy farmer, it is normally triggered by bacterial invasion of the teat canal which causes an immune response in the cow demonstrated by the mammary gland and udder tissue becoming inflamed.

The condition can be due to bacteria picked up during the milking process or environmental contact. Such as contamination from the equipment used for milking, the milking stalls, milking staff or contamination from manure.

Mastitis can also occur due to chemical, mechanical or thermal injury to the cow’s udder. It is a serious on going concern in dairy cattle welfare.


Costs involved with mastitis 

Mastitis is very costly to dairy farmers on several levels above and beyond the expensive antibiotics to treat the disease, some of the other costs involved include:

  • Dairy farmers have to throw away milk contaminated by antibiotics or other medication as it is unfit for human consumption
  • The cost of staff time in tending sick cattle rises significantly
  • Milk production is reduced in sick animals and if the udder has permanent damage from the infection the cow will permanently produce lower milk yields
  • The cost of vet treatment, antibiotics and other medications is extremely high
  • The productive lifespan of sick animals is reduced
  • Heightened risk of cross contamination threatening the whole dairy herd
  • In severe cases the damage to the udder is permanent and functionality is lossed
  • Acute mastitis can cause fatalities

The new tool to help mastitis management is hoped to give both farmers and vets insight into the patterns of mastitis in the herd.


Udder Health

The AHDB stated that both the dairy industry and at farm level extensive quantities of data are collected about the disease now their is a new tool available to automate the analysis process of establishing infection patterns.

The mastitis pattern tool helps identify potential udder health risks by analysing somatic cell counts (SCC) and clinical mastitis records.


Mastitis Management

The tool produces a mastitis pattern report that allows farmers and vets to assess and prioritise key mastitis management areas and potentially detect emerging problems.

The new tool provides clear ongoing insight into the udder health of a herd whereas previously it was difficult for dairy farmers to be aware of issues concerning mastitis until it was too late and an outbreak already occurred.

The utilising of somatic cell counts and treatment records of mastitis for mastitis management fits well in an industry where milk recording herds have easy access to scc data.