THE GOLDEN RULE is only treat cows with clinical, or visible, signs of mastitis with antibiotics during lactation.
New recommendations in the DairyNZ SmartSAMM guidelines go further and say that treatment should only be given to clinical cases that show signs (clots, watery or discoloured milk) that persist for three or more squirts during stripping. This helps avoid wasting antibiotics on cases that may otherwise cure on their own.
Cows with only a few flecks or clots, or a positive result on a rapid mastitis test (RMT), i.e. the thick gel or ‘snotty’ reaction, should be marked, monitored and stripped at later milkings to check for more obvious clinical signs i.e. signs that persist for three or more strips.
Unless otherwise recommended by a veterinarian, these RMT-positive cows should not be automatically added to the treatment list. This practice is hugely wasteful of antibiotics and discarded milk and can show little benefit.
So, do you have a written procedure for finding and treating mastitis this season? Does your milking team know it and understand it? Take time this autumn to review last season and ask your vet or advisor to help you develop a practical and cost-effective procedure for this calving time. DairyNZ Healthy Udder provides a great place to start.
To find out more, visit Guideline 4 - Rapidly find, record and treat clinical cases in recently calved cows in the managing mastitis section of the DairyNZ website.
By Jane Lacy-Hulbert, DairyNZ Senior Scientist
This article is from Getting The Basics Right 2013, published by Rural News Group. To read the full article click here