Summer mastitis is an unpredictable disease some farms suffer year after year. It’s caused by the bacterium Trueperella pyogenes and spread by flies, mainly affecting dry cows, heifers and young calves.
Onset of mastitis can be aggressive and lead to permanent udder damage causing pain and economic losses. If you put management practices in place you can reduce the risk to your herd.
Vet Iain McCormick, of Galedin Vets, shares his advice for reducing this common summer condition.
“Fly control should be a farmer’s first line of defence against summer mastitis. There is a range of products available including pour-on, sprays and ear tags. Some farmers can be reluctant to apply a second application but the hassle of applying a second treatment far outweighs the loss of an animal due to mastitis. So I urge farmers to read the product label carefully and repeat an application if required. If you’re unsure about which product to use speak to your vet or SQP for advice,” says Iain.
Iain explains that environmental factors such as low lying, wet or wooded areas mean flies are naturally present in certain fields and for some farms this leads to repeated problems. Where possible, he recommends moving cattle away from areas of large fly populations to help reduce the risk.
“If you are using dry cow antibiotic preparations always consult your vet first. Whether you have dairy or beef cattle it’s important to consider hygiene when using dry cow tubes or teat sealants as a preventive measure. It’s essential to prevent further infection by ensuring teats are swabbed with surgical spirit and a teat dip is used afterwards. Care should also be taken when inserting a tube so as not to damage the teat canal,” explains Iain.
Iain reminds us to check all stock including bulls, first-time heifers and youngstock, all of which can be susceptible to mastitis.
“Look out for cattle appearing ‘under the weather’ and standing away from the herd. Infected teats will be swollen and there can often be large numbers of flies feeding around them. Cows can also appear to be lame in the hind quarters where they may be feeling sore in the udder, so it’s always worth double checking,” says Iain.
“If you do see signs of mastitis you should contact your vet and treat as soon as possible. Usually treatment involves antibiotics to combat the infection and anti-inflammatories to counter the swelling, reduce any high temperatures and provide pain relief. It’s also essential infected udders are stripped regularly, and any product discarded safely to avoid transferring infection,” says Iain.
For further information on treatment of summer mastitis visit here.