Mastitis is a challenge for the dairy industry and costs can be high for treatment, time, and production loss. Prompt, effective treatment of infection and reducing the spread of infection will minimise financial loss and maximise animal health.

Know your prescribed treatments well. As mastitis has different causes at different stages of lactation and season, you will have been prescribed more than one choice. You will have more success when using the most appropriate treatment.

We recommend a milk sample be taken, labelled and frozen for every mastitis case before treatment. If the cow does not respond to the chosen treatment, the sample can then be sent to the lab to find out what type of bacteria is causing the infection. Once treatment has commenced, milk samples will be affected by the treatment and so the results will not be as reliable as a pre-treatment sample.

When taking milk samples it is very important to ensure environmental contamination does not compromise the milk sample, and therefore interfere with the accuracy of the results. A few tips:

  1. Ensure the udder is clean and dry then wipe with a teat wipe, especially concentrating on the teat end.
  2. Squirt the first few strips onto the ground.
  3. Hold the container at an angle, so that contaminants cannot fall into the sample, and collect about 20mls.
  4. Ensure your hands and the teats do not touch the inside of the collection container and lid.
  5. Clearly mark the sealed sample with your name, the date and cow identification.
  6. Freeze ASAP or refrigerate and submit to the Vet Centre the same day.

Historical laboratory results from milk samples are invaluable in the evaluation of a mastitis problem, and are therefore never a waste of time.

As a guide, less than 5% of the herd should be infected with mastitis in a season. If 10% or more are infected then a herd problem is developing. Failing mastitis treatments are costly, so if you require further assistance contact your nearest clinic for one of our vets experienced in mastitis consultancy to evaluate your situation.