Mastitis management – Research shows there is a smarter approach
The management of mastitis is evolving as Bulk Milk Somatic Cell Counts (BMSCC) have reduced to low levels. As a result,
today there is increased emphasis on preventing new infections in uninfected cows rather than curing existing infections
at drying off.
In New Zealand, those dairy farmers that have taken this on board are re-evaluating their management practices. They
have found that selective therapy of the whole herd with specialist products at drying off can lead to superior results
at a much lower cost. While blanket dry cow therapy has become commonplace on New Zealand farms, many believe it no
longer necessarily produces the best results. Ynte Schukken, a world recognised expert in mastitis control recently
highlighted the importance of treating cows in a herd as individuals rather than applying a blanket treatment approach
to dry cow therapy.1 He summarised research on the use of a non-antibiotic internal teat sealant which demonstrated its
efficacy at preventing new environmental infections.
The principles of prevention via selective treatment are endorsed by the dairy sector’s Seasonal Approach to Managing
Mastitis plan (SAMM). The SAMM plan outlines the selective treatment option as having an important role to play in
drying off strategies.
With a SAMM plan objective of reducing SCC levels in New Zealand herds being more regularly met, the evolution towards a
selective treatment approach is natural, and Schukken’s research backs this up.
Schukken also questioned the use of blanket dry cow therapy, as antibiotic use comes under greater scrutiny, especially
when there was a readily available non-antibiotic alternative, shown to reduce the incidence of new infection markedly.
Schukken’s research showed that as the bulk milk somatic cell count (BMSCC) in a herd decreases, the percentage of cows
requiring a preventative rather than a cure, increases. The objective of dry cow therapy therefore needs to be linked to
BMSCC with the emphasis on cure when the BMSCC is high, and more on prevention as the BMSCC decreases.
Tips for farmers to follow in controlling mastitis include: Deciding the best dry cow strategy in consultation with a
veterinarian Using the principles of the SAMM plan Measuring and recording information regularly to show trends Using a
teat spray at every milking Ensuring milking machines are checked at least once a year Ensuring that best practice
milking techniques are followed If problems with mastitis persist – seek veterinary advice as soon as possible
Darryn Pegram BVSc, Marketing Manager for Pfizer Animal Health, says Pfizer is committed to continuing developments in
the area of mastitis management.
“Research into the efficacy of Teatseal undertaken by Dr Andrew Bradley and presented at roadshows last year
demonstrates our commitment to bringing innovative and efficacious products to the farmer. By working closely with
veterinarians and farmers, Pfizer aims to bring about a change in the way mastitis management is viewed, from one of
following past habits, to a truly selective management approach where products are selected based on the cow’s actual
needs. Pfizer is well placed to meet the changing needs of farmers, with such innovative products as its non-antibiotic
Teatseal product for uninfected cows together with its high cure rate antibiotic Orbenin Enduro for infected cows.”
Schukken, Y.H (2002) “Future Mastitis Control Strategies for the Dry Cow”, presented at a Symposium, The Future of Dry
Cow Therapy, World Buiatrics Congress, Germany, August 20th 2002.