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Dairy Today Healthline

5 Ways to Minimize the Threat of Mastitis

May 08, 2014

What have you overlooked when it comes to avoiding infection in your herd?

Source: Alltech

According to the National Mastitis Council, the cost of poor milk quality is not cheap. The average case of mastitis costs a farmer $184, with two-thirds of that amount being due to loss in milk production.

Keeping cattle healthy and protected from the threat of mastitis can be extremely difficult, especially during the summer months. Heat, humidity and other factors can make managing the potential for pathogenic bacteria even more difficult. Poor practices that might be tolerated during cooler parts of the year hold minimal to no forgiveness during the warmer months.

Roger Scaletti, one of Alltech’s dairy experts in milk quality, explains five areas that can keep your herd on the right path for peak productivity and assist you in managing or even working to prevent instances of mastitis in your herd. Udder and teat-end health is critical when it comes to avoiding infection in your herd.

1. Parlor routine can be very often overlooked, as simply getting cows milked two to three times a day can be a feat in itself. When assessing parlor routine, ironically, some of the smallest things can make a world of difference. Wearing gloves, making sure there is adequate pre-dip coverage, and keeping in mind the contact time of pre-dip before it is wiped off can have a significant impact. Are all employees adequately following the standards that you have in place, leaving none out, and completing them properly? Milking clean, dry teats is the name of the game, and all employees should be working toward a common goal.

2. The environment that your cattle are housed in can also play a role in poor milk quality. Are your cows housed in a mastitis infectious yard, or are they in a well-ventilated dry area, with minimal contact to some of the key mastitis-causing bacteria?

3. When purchasing cattle, what kind of screening takes place before allowing these animals into your herd? Assessing milk culture and production records, as well as quarantining the animals before allowing them the ability to infect your entire herd, can help to minimize instances of introducing a new infection to your herd.

4. Teat end health is critical when it comes to avoiding instances of infection in your herd. Milking equipment should be serviced routinely, as equipment not performing properly can cause teat end problems. Using a five- point scoring system can help to analyze the condition of teat ends, as well as ensure that the bacteria-blocking keratin plug is able to fulfill its responsibilities. Teat ends should maintain a smooth structure, avoiding any lesions or fraying, as these rough surfaces can more easily allow bacteria to enter the gland.

5. Trace mineral nutrition through selenium, copper, and zinc supplementation in diets is important for optimizing the health of dairy cows. Trace minerals and organic selenium offer a protected natural form of mineral supplementation that enhances mineral status to improve udder health and reduce somatic cell counts. Nutrition and the use of organic trace minerals can also play a key role in milk quality, and can play a huge part in managing infections before they even occur.

To learn more about managing milk quality, please find us at or call us at 859-887-5178.

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