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Control of Mastitis

198. All dairy producers should follow the Five Point Plan:-

In addition, it is a requirement of the Dairy Products (Hygiene) Regulations 1995 that the foremilk is examined and discarded. Foremilking is considered the best means of detecting the early signs of mastitis and allows for the stimulus for milk let down.

199. Environmental mastitis is more likely to occur when cows are housed when there is greater exposure to faecal contamination. Pre-milking dipping with an approved disinfectant may be beneficial.

200. Poor environmental conditions predispose to mastitis and there is evidence that loose housing in straw yards results in a higher incidence of mastitis than housing in cubicle yards. However, there are good and bad examples of both types of housing: much depends on stockmanship and management. Whatever system is used, cleanliness is a most important factor and plays a significant part in controlling mastitis.

201. Since de-regulation of the milk market in November 1994, SCC data are no longer collected centrally. This is regrettable and needs addressing to allow proper measurement of trends and to allow the data to be used in breeding programmes. On-farm records of clinical mastitis need to be collated to provide a national picture of clinical mastitis and to aid breeding and research programmes.

202. More funding of mastitis research is required to identify further the causes and therefore aid prevention and treatment of this costly disease. With antibiotic resistance becoming a concern, research is urgently needed to look for effective alternatives.

Recommendations

203. All dairy producers should adhere to the NIRD/CVL Five Point Plan which, together with good stockmanship, will help control mastitis infection.

204. Mastitis control should be part of herd health monitoring with targets set for incidence.

205. Monitoring and recording of antibiotic tube usage should be an integral part of herd monitoring and should include tubes used per herd and per individual cow.

206. Mastitis monitoring and control should be a part of routine veterinary visits. Milk samples should be taken in order to identify the causal agent and antibiotic sensitivity testing carried out to allow better targeting with antibiotics or other efficacious treatments.

207. The development of systems to aid the early detection of mastitis should be encouraged by the Government and the industry.

208. Controls for summer mastitis should include control of flies (particularly from July to September), use of eartags impregnated with insecticide, sprays or pour-on preparations and avoidance of high risk pastures.

209. If summer mastitis occurs as a significant herd problem, veterinary advice should be sought and a suitable control programme implemented.

210. Further research should be undertaken to develop vaccines, and other treatments, for the prevention and control of mastitis and to avoid routine usage of antibiotics.

211. Consideration should be given by the industry to the central collection of SCC data, and records of cases of clinical mastitis, to aid monitoring of mastitis health in the national herd.