The causes of mastitis are complex and varied, but a good control programme can minimize problems and losses. Management of three broad areas of dairy production is the key to mastitis control. These areas are
1: The environment,
2: Cow susceptibility
3: Microorganisms that invade the teat end to establish mammary gland infection.
Mastitis control programme
A mastitis control programme should be in place on all dairy farms. Key components include teat dipping, dry cow therapy, good housing hygiene, milking machine maintenance, recording of somatic cell counts (SCC), and culling of cows with high SCC.
Early detection and treatment of clinical mastitis is vital, together with recording of cases.
All dairy herds are prone to a certain level of mastitis because complete eradication of udder inflammation is difficult. The herd level of mastitis is important as it reflects not only the rate of new infection, but also the duration or length of the time existing infections last.
An effective control programme will minimize the number of new cases and reduce the duration of existing infections. Procedures to control the rate of new infection must focus on reducing teat end exposure to infective microorganisms. This is accomplished by strict attention to sanitary measures on the cow and in the cow environment. Duration of existing mastitis (infection already present) is controlled by the use of laboratory detection tests to identify subclinical cases.
Then appropriate treatment or (culling if appropriate), as advised by the attending veterinarian should be carried out. Prompt action should begin when the infected cow is first identified to reduce potential spread to other cows. At that time, apply control measures to prevent spreading the infection to other quarters or cows, regardless of the source. Appropriate management techniques applied to infected animals are very important to control spreading of infective organisms.
New detection system:
Now there may be a way to detect the disease at the earliest possible time, which will help eliminate a lot of problems for farmers.
The project will be funded by the Science Foundation Ireland CONNECT research centre and also the Cork County Council. Tests on the project and indeed the project as a whole will be run by the European and global leader for research, the Tyndall National institute UCC.
It has been reported that the project will cost in the region of €150,000 to complete, and over two years to test. The detection system aims to reduce the national somatic cell count by up to 10%. This could mean a whopping €37million savings within the dairy industry.
The aim of the project is to create a device which can detect mastitis early, through nanosensor technologies. It will be integrated into milking machines so that it can sample all four quarters of every udder.