Mastitis – prevention is cheaper than cure
Environmental mastitis is caused when bacteria from the cow’s surroundings enter the udder via the teat canal and cause infection.
This is the only way that environmental bacteria can enter the udder and it therefore, stands to reason that the only way to prevent environmental mastitis is to prevent bacteria from entering the teat canal.
How do we do this? With Boviseal internal teat sealant.
Sealing teats provides the only means of preventing bacteria from entering the udder and it is therefore, vital that farmers continue to seal.
As this x-ray shows, teats infused with Boviseal are completely sealed and it is physically impossible for bacteria to enter.
Boviseal teat sealant seals over 70% of Irish dairy cows annually and has a unique, patented formulation. It is proven to reduce mastitis in the dry period, in the first 100 days post calving and in the following lactation and it has been shown to give a 300% return on investment in an Irish-farm study.
What many farmers do not realise is that, carried out correctly, the use of Boviseal will help prevent mastitis cases in the first 100 days post-calving.
Trial work has shown that over 50% of E Coli mastitis cases in the first 100 days of lactation entered the udder during the dry cow period when teat seals were not used. Some of these will be the acute cases around calving which can result in death if not treated promptly by vets with intravenous and oral medication.
Furthermore, the use of Boviseal also allows the gland the opportunity to deal with existing infections to ensure reduced SCCs and fewer chances of clinical mastitis the next lactation.
Subclinical Mastitis and The Cost of Poor Quality Milk
While prevention is always better than cure, inevitably treatment for some cows will be required.
These cows still need to receive both Boviseal teat sealant and an appropriate antibiotic dry cow therapy at dry off.
Subclinical mastitis causes high somatic cell count (SCC) in cows. High SCC cows produce both less milk, and lower quality milk than their low cell count cohorts and profitability is impacted as the farmer is penalised for high cell counts.
From a treating mastitis point of view, any cows with a cell count of over 150,000 have to be assumed to be suffering from subclinical mastitis and should receive a dry cow antibiotic in addition to Boviseal.
There is good evidence to suggest that the use of dry cow therapy is more likely to result in the cure of existing subclinical mastitis than the use of lactating cow therapy.
The dry cow antibiotic must be specified based on which one will best treat the pathogens present in the herd and not on the basis of what is on special offer, or what has been used in previous years.
Farmers should sample at least six cows in the weeks prior to drying off for culture and sensitivity, and discuss their mastitis rate, SCC and goals with the vet before he or she can recommend which antibiotic policy and which tubes to use.
This is essential to ensure that an antibiotic tube with the best antibiotic type to eliminate the existing pathogens can be used.
In low cell count herds, the vet may advise a move towards Selective Dry Cow Therapy (SDCT), whereby cows with a high SCC count receive carefully chosen antibiotic tubes and Boviseal, and those with a low SCC receive Boviseal alone.
The move towards SDCT is important as we endeavour to responsibly reduce our use of antibiotic use in the face of increasing resistance.
However, a move towards SDCT should only ever be carried out on the advice of a vet and will be determined by a number of factors, which take into account data from both the herd and the individual cow.
Farmers also have to be aware of the risks of unintentionally introducing environmental contamination and a good aseptic technique for insertion and careful monitoring of cows post dry off has to be practiced.Also Read: How best practive at dry off can protect profit lines