Package of Practices for Mastitis Control and Clean Milk Production

Package of Practices for Mastitis Control and Clean Milk Production

Clean and high quality milk can only be produced by healthy cows, i.e., cows free of udder infection managed and milked under clean and hygienic environment. Because the quality of milk cannot be improved following extraction from the cow, the production of high quality milk requires an effective mastitis control program in addition to adoption of proper hygiene at all the steps. Important aspects of clean milk production programme are: cows, cow environment, milking system, milking practices or procedures and milk storage or cooling system. A deficiency in any part of the overall system will result in decreased milk quality.

Mastitis can be controlled to a lower level by adopting suitable udder health management programme which intern are based on two main principles viz, elimination of existing infection and prevention of new infection.  Elimination of existing infection can be achieved by antibiotic therapy both during dry and lactation period. Clinical cases require early therapy. Laboratory culturing of milk from these quarters helps to prescribe proper therapy. Prevention of new infection can be achieved by adopting a suitable udder health management programme. Use of CMT on the entire herd at monthly intervals is very useful aid in detecting herd mastitis problems. If it is suspected that a subclinical case of mastitis may progress to clinical, begin prompt therapy.

Following of the following package of practices is very useful for the control of mastitis in dairy herds.

Adoption of proper hygienic measures:

Maintenance of proper hygiene is perhaps the most important management practice in mastitis control as it affects the degree of exposure and population of microbes in the environment surrounding the cow. 

The sanitary measures can be summarised as follows:

  1. Teat washing with disinfectant solution and wiping with individual clean towels, prior to each milking.
  2. Disinfecting of hands of milkers, milking machine clusters before milking and
  3. Teat dis-infection after each milking by dipping or spraying all teats in disinfectant solution.

Suitable udder disinfectants for this purpose are as follows:

  • Iodophor solution containing 0.1 to 1.0% available iodine.
  • Chlorhexidine 0.5 or 1% in polyvinyl pyrrolidone solution or as 0.3% aqueous solution
  • Sodium hypochlorite (4% solution).

To ensure effectiveness of these disinfectants the udder must be washed clearly to remove all the organic matter before applying disinfectant solution on them.

Proper milking procedure:

Proper milking of dairy animals is important regardless of whether hand or machine milking is being followed. Rapid and full hand milking is desirable as this ensures harvesting of more milk and simultaneously prevents teat injury which might result as a consequence of improper milking method (Fisting etc). Milking management becomes more important when machine milking is followed. In addition to proper disinfecting of milking machine, the following factors must be considered.

  • Check fore milk and udder for mastitis using strip cup or California mastitis test (CMT).
  • Attach the milking unit properly.
  • Optimum vacuum must be ensured.
  • Pulsation rate should be maintained within permissible limits.
  • Teat liner must be checked for rupture etc. and must be replaced at least once a month.
  • Milk the infected animal in the end when all the fresh animals have been milked.
  • Inspect milking equipment routinely.

Dry cow therapy:

The dry period offers a valuable opportunity to improve udder health while cows are not lactating. On the other hand, the beginning (initial 2‑3 weeks) and the final 2‑3 weeks of gestation period is very vulnerable to new infections. The procedure of dry cow therapy may be carried out as follows:

  • Dip all the teats in an effective teat dip after complete milking and dry completely.
  • Disinfect each teat end with alcohol soaked cotton swab and infuse a single doses x syringe of a recommended antibiotic. Long acting antibiotic preparations like benzathine Cephapirin, benzathine cloxacillin, benzathine penicillin, erythomycin, novobiocin etc, can be used successfully. A partial insertion method of administration is better than complete insertion.
  • Immediately after treatment dip all the teats in an effective teat dip again.

Quick diagnosis and appropriate therapy of affected animals during lactation.

Early detection of mastitis, preferably in sub-clinical form itself, is the key to the successful treatment of the disease. This can be better done by screening all quarter samples using California Mastitis Test (CMT) and monitoring Somatic Cell Count (SCC) at least once a month regularly. Use of strip cup is another easy test for detecting clinical mastitis. The antibiotic therapy should be done after conducting the sensitivity test and use single dose tubes and not the multiple dose bottles which can become contaminated. It is better to consult a qualified veterinarian.

Segregation and culling of chronic infected animals

As soon as the mastitis is confirmed, the cow must be segregated from rest of the herd and milked and treated separately besides adopting proper hygienic measures. Selective culling of the cows with chronic mastitis (three or more episodes in lactation) should be practised.

Monitoring udder health status:

  • Monitoring udder health of individual cows‑ individual cow SCC can be used along with CMT. For proper monitoring good record keeping is essential. Based on the current udder health status the appropriate control measures should be undertaken. Besides, periodic review of the udder health management programme is also important to take corrective measures wherever required.

Setting goals for udder health status:

Establishment of realistic periodic targets for various udder health parameters is the final step of a complete udder health management program. The goals should be realistic. To sum up, the production of clean milk requires looking at and evaluating nearly every aspect of the milk production system. To consistently produce high quality milk with low bacteria counts requires continual attention to numerous details. You should not be satisfied with any other product or equipment on your farm that just barely met minimum performance standards.