Getting to grips with mastitis and cell counts


By Caroline Groves

Mastitis is without doubt one of the most debilitating and expensive diseases on dairy farms. There is also a massive range of incidence with the best farms achieving less than 30 cases per 100 cows per year and the worst, three times this level.  

We fully endorse and use the AHDB Mastitis Control Plan on the front line with our clients. To reduce the incidence of clinical mastitis and high bulk cells counts it is essential to know where new cases are coming from. Reducing new infections is the key to reducing both cell counts and overall clinical incidence rate.

With four key vectors relating to the dry and lactating periods of lactation and whether the type of infection environmental or contagious it requires some keen detective work to figure out exactly what is the specific cause of the disease. The Control Plan is very sophisticated at drilling into recording data to identify patterns of mastitis. Having done this, it is easy to identify the main sources of infection.  Seasonal issues can also be picked up along with detailed analysis of re-infections.  

The plan is augmented by a detailed questionnaire which looks at every element of management that impacts on mastitis. From this and the pattern analysis actions can be put in place to specifically target the new infection rates. We have seen really great steps made using the tool and it has helped enormously to reduce reliance on antibiotics.