Every farmer has had to deal with cases of mastitis. Depending on the type of mastitis, eliminating it from a herd can be difficult.

Contagious mastitis is caused by bacteria such as Staph Aureus; Strep Uberis; and Strep. Agalactiae being transmitted between cows during milking.

To control contagious mastitis within your herd, you firstly need to reduce the risk of infection spreading from cow to cow.

There are two ways in which this can be done:

  1. Reduce the number of infected cows;
  2. Prevent spreading.

Reduce the number of infected cows

The most important step to prevent spreading mastitis is to identify and cure cases as quickly as possible.

Milk recording is a useful tool to help identify high somatic cell count (SCC) and problem cows.

Record all cases; chronic cases should be considered for culling. All cows should also receive a post-milking teat disinfectant.

The period just after milking is high risk for possible contraction from environmental mastitis.

Contagious mastitis

To reduce the spread of bacteria you need to consider all aspects of herd management.

This includes bio-security, an effective milking routine and milking machine maintenance.

Having an ineffective milking routine will only aid the passing of mastitis causing bacteria between cows.

An effective milking routine will not only help reduce the spreading of bacteria between cows, but will also help you to produce better quality milk.

Identifying high risk cows

All high-risk cows should be marked. High-risk cows include antibiotic and high SCC cows.

These cows should be marked using paint or tape so they can be easily identified when entering the milking parlour.

High SCC cows should be identified during milk recording, cows that remain high for a period of time should be considered for culling.

You could consider treating clusters that have come off high SCC cows to reduce the spread of bacteria.

Cows that have been treated with antibiotics should be clearly marked to avoid any mishaps.