Mastitis prevention practices crucial ahead of antibiotic supply reductions

03 Apr 2020

Chief vets are urging producers to be more diligent with mastitis prevention practices due to supply problems with seven key intramammary antibiotic products for lactating cows.  

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) has recently been informed that more than half of the lactating cow intramammary antibiotics on the market have been withdrawn due to falling outside of quality standards, according to Progiene’s Alison Clark.

Animal health

“While VMD has said it will work with vets to ensure that animal health needs are met if the remaining products are not suitable, delays in treatment can cause significant consequences for dairy businesses,” she said.

Along with compromising animal welfare, costs associated with mastitis carry a huge financial burden. Reports show mastitis costs the UK dairy industry £144 million each year, with the average case costing £200.

Safeguard herds

The national average is 40 cases of mastitis per 100 cows – that’s a total cost of £8,000 per year.

To safeguard their herds, Ms Clark recommends producers adopt a comprehensive prevention plan for contagious and environmental mastitis.

Treatment protocols

This includes: creating and following treatment protocols; recording all clinical cases; assess housing management and hygiene; conducting an annual milking machine test; pre-dipping, with an effective and fast-acting biocide; using a post milking teat disinfectant, preferably with a barrier; allowing cows to stand for 20 minutes post milking, to allow teats to close properly; consulting with the herd’s vet regarding use of dry cow therapy; and culling chronic ‘carriers’.

While barrier and post milking teat dips are essential to kill mastitis causing pathogens, Ms Clark adds that producers should select a chlorine dioxide-based product, like UdderGold Platinum, rather than iodine dips.

Maximum power

“Maximum pathogen killing power for chlorine dioxide is between 10 and 20 seconds, compared to between 30 and 60 seconds for iodine.

“It is essential to minimise preparation time, as much as possible, to avoid potential issues with a cow’s oxytocin reflex to drop milk,” she says.

Longer protection

“Chlorine dioxide also has a 12-hour killing period, to protect for longer between milkings, while iodine only works for 20 minutes. This extended period of protection not only safeguards an individual cow, but also her herd mates from contagious mastitis pathogens.”