Careful targeting reduces mastitis

Published 29 December 11

Just under 900 DairyCo Mastitis Control Plans are now in place on farms across the country. Becky Floate, a plan deliverer through The Dairy Group, explains why she thinks they are such a useful tool in the fight against mastitis.

 clean udder"I've found the DairyCo Mastitis Control Plan (DMCP) which uses clinical and subclinical mastitis data together with herd management information, gives a farm specific plan to combat mastitis, enabling extremely targeted advice," says Becky.

"When you go on farm with a mastitis problem there are often a whole host of things that the farmer could be doing to try and control the problem and without good data to work from it can be difficult to pinpoint the key areas to target. The plan helps you prioritise the actions that will really help with that farm's specific problem and the actions that will have the most effect on the problem.

"Sometimes it's not the most obvious thing that is the major cause of mastitis on a farm," she adds.

"It's the combination of data that goes into the DMCP that makes it so farm specific and therefore targeted. You need to provide the herd data you usually get from your milk recorder and clinical mastitis case data (cow number, quarter effected and date) in order to pinpoint whether you have predominantly environmental or contagious mastitis.

"We also undertake an extensive questionnaire into your management on farm. It can, at the time seem rather long and to be asking questions about subjects that don't seem to be related to the mastitis issue," says Becky. "But it gives us the information to build up a complete picture of where the mastitis comes from and what actions really will help to reduce incidences."

The plan helps to ascertain if the herd's mastitis problem originates from the dry period or during the lactation, it assumes that if cases are occurring in the first 30 days of milk production that management in the dry period is probably the area to concentrate on. The plan looks at clinical case data and SCC patterns separately and with the SCC data we assume that if cows go over 200,000 SCC they are subclinically infected.

"Mastitis control is an on-going process and we find that as we get to the root of a dry period problem and things begin to improve, issues from the lactation, which have not necessarily been a priority can be tackled," says Becky.  And it's a team approach, working with the vet for any treatments required, and the farmer and farm staff to instigate the right management techniques.                                                                         

Case studies

Becky worked with Tim McKendrick, also from The Dairy Group, on a DMCP for David Evans at Brunslow Farm, Lydbury North, Shropshire and saw some good results in tackling the mastitis issue.

 

Jan 2010 (start of DMCP)

Nov 2011

% herd > 200SCC

24%

15.7%

Fresh calver (1st 30 days) infection rate (SCC)

23%

9.1%

Lactation new infection rate (SCC)

40%

5.7%

(Monitoring in above table done by using SCC as indicator of infection.)

The DMCP plan encouraged the Evans' to focus on improving dry and calving cow management and to look closely at the grazing management for the whole herd.

Becky and Tim have also recently started to work with TJN Platt & Sons at Fields Farm, Middlewich, Cheshire, with a parlour test, DMCP questionnaire and farm data from Interherd. An action plan has been generated with some clear action points.

"We've spent some time looking at milking routine, reducing stocking rates on straw yards and the management of freshly calved cows. It's early days with this herd but so far there has been a significant drop in herd SCC," says Becky.

There are trained plan deliverers across the country who can implement the DairyCo Mastitis Control Plan.  To find a deliverer near you, visit www.mastitiscontrolplan.co.uk.