Mastitis in Dairy Cows

One of the health problems that can occur in dairy cattle is mastitis. It is an important concern in any lactating female, where they be humans, sheep, goats, or even cattle.

From a practical viewpoint, it seemed like mastitis was caused by management errors when I was working on our dairy farm. This would happen if the cow was not drained of all of her milk. So that was a milking problem. Also, the chance of infection was viable if the cow’s teats were not washed and sanitized adequately. Mastitis seemed to be more of a problem immediately following the birthing of calves.

The symptoms of mastitis include, but are not limited to: A swollen, red colored udder; white lumps in the milk (these will actually clog up the milk duct in a teat); and udder sensitivity.

Treatment of mastitis immediately is very important to prevent problems. First, once a cow has mastitis, it is necessary to pull the cow’s milk from the production line. This is because the dairy company purchasing the milk tests a sample from all milk tanks.

Just one cow with mastitis could raise the white blood cell count in a tank of milk so that the tank would have to be destroyed. This would eventually cost the farmer, possibly out of his pocket, or, from his insurance for the dairy company. This is because the tank of milk is pumped into a milk tanker truck. Therefore, if one farmer’s tank of milk is contaminated, then the enter truck must be destroyed.

Mastitis is treated with an intra-udder treatment. The treatment, usually a strong antibiotic medicine, is injected into the milk ducts in the teats. This is done after draining the udder of all milk possible. Just like with the mastitis milk (untreated) itself, the treated milk must not be allowed to enter the milk tank. This will cause ruination of a tanker of milk also. The concern with this is that there are some humans who are allergic to certain antibiotics. So, the treatment will have a specified withdrawal period. The milk must not be allowed back into the tank until after the mastitis is healed and the withdrawal period followed.