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Mastitis (Dairy Cattle)

About Mastitis (Dairy Cattle)

Mastitis reduces milk quality and quantity and affects the profitability of the dairy farm, it can can be painful and may affect cow welfare or lead to death and also reduces cow fertility and increases involuntary culling.

Costs of mastitis are highly variable and can range from reduced yield to loss of quality bonuses, treatment costs of up to £300, or loss of a cow.  The highest costs of mastitis are hidden costs largely due to loss in production, disruption of management routines and reduced fertility.

Key Points

  • Mastitis can take many forms from invisible to fatal.
  • All forms are associated with production losses.
  • Mastitis may be caused by many different bacteria.
  • The main bacteria causing mastitis may differ considerably between farms and require different mastitis prevention or treatment strategies.
  • Mastitis control plans should therefore be tailored to individual farms.
  • Prevention is better than cure and is based on reducing exposure to bacteria through good hygiene.
  • Hygiene is important for lactating cows, dry cows and heifers.
  • For contagious mastitis, milking parlour hygiene is most important.
  • For environmental mastitis, hygiene in the barn, alleyways or pasture is most important.
  • There is no one-on-one relationship between bacterial species and transmission route, but some bacteria are more likely to be contagious than others.
  • Antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance are of increasing concern.
  • We must use antimicrobials carefully and selectively in dairy farming and concentrate efforts on disease prevention.

Research at Moredun

Moredun have a research interest in novel vaccine candidates and approaches for protection of dairy cattle against mastitis.

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