Good housing means happy, healthy cows according to Animal Health Ireland (AHI) which says that housing increases cows’ exposure to mastitis at this time of the year.

It says that mastitis occurs because bacteria get into the udder through the teat end. These bacteria can come from other cows (via milk), or from the environment. When cows are housed, their exposure to mastitis – causing bacteria in the environment will be higher. Bacteria, such as E. coli and Strep. uberis, which survive in the cow’s environment, can cause severe cases of mastitis. Plan ahead, and reduce the risk of mastitis problems this winter.

It recommends that to reduce the risk of mastitis by making sure housing is clean, dry and comfortable.

1. Cleaner Houses = cleaner udders = less bacteria at the teat ends. It’s advice to achieve cleaner housing is to:

• Scrape passageways, cubicles and yards at least twice a day, or run automatic scrapers at least 6-8 times daily
• Don’t forget, cubicle mats and bedding should be clean; and,
• In straw-bedded houses, bedding should be refreshed daily.

2. Dry Housing makes it harder for bacteria to grow, Animal Health Ireland says. It advises that:
• Good ventilation is essential;
• Liming of cubicles (twice daily) will help keep them dry; and,
• Make sure straw bedding isn’t damp. Wet knees after kneeling on it means it’s damp.

3. Comfortable cubicles will ensure that cows will use them more which will also ensure cleaner udders and teats, it says. To do this it says to not overstock cubicle housing this winter-aim to have 10% more cubicles than cows.