Old-School Mastitis Therapy

April 3, 2013 08:52 AM

Art Schaap

Art Schaap
Clovis and Portales, N.M.

The Schaaps manage four dairies, including an organic operation, and milk 5,500 cows. They’re also partners in a cheese factory.


With the dry weather we have on the high plains of New Mexico, limited moisture makes mastitis control easy on us -- until the monsoon season hits July through August, which is when we pay it all back with flare ups and E. coli.

It is always important to pre-dip, prime and wipe every cow before applying any sort of machine. This way, their mammary ducts open up more naturally and this helps from spreading any diseases.

We use damp dry towels straight out of the washer-dryer to remove mud, dirt or any debris, which helps keep our coli count down. We use an iodine pre-dip to sanitize udders before milking as well to ensure cows don’t spread mastitis.

With input costs on the rise, we’ve needed to dilute the iodine with water for our pre-dip. However, this has saved us money and has not affected our mastitis problems.

We milk three times a day, which gives the cows less pressure in their udders. If any cow is missed for whatever reason, we make sure to milk her as soon as we can within an 8-hour window.

We have tried in the past the "no treatment, treat plates" and have discovered that 80% of all mastitis cows are not susceptible to any antibiotics at our dairies. So, instead of treating with the regular tubes, we use oxytocin and strip their milk out completely.

Going old school by stripping the cows and milking them out has reduced our treatment costs substantially.

Making sure that our pens are clean (scrapped, harrowed) is also very helpful when trying to prevent mastitis.

When treated with oxytocin, cows release their milk faster and more abundantly. When this fails and udders show fever, mastitis tubes are then used along with a dose of hypertonic saline and antibiotics. We try to stay away from the medicine as much as we can and normally have a high success rate with stripping cows.

Fly control and pen condition, to us, are big factors when it comes to mastitis control. Having dry sand underneath shades gives our cows much comfort during the months of June and August. Due to the drought that we are going through, we have not had many problems with puddles forming in the pens.

This is optimal because cows don’t get their tails and udders dirty. We don’t have mud holes and we have a tight grip on our fly control; but when that rain comes back, we’ll have to fill that hole when we get there.

Schaap’s recent prices

$18.01 (3.73 bf, 3.01 prt)

Cull cows

Springing heifers

Alfalfa hay (milk cow)


Rolled milo

Cotton meal

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