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15. Mastitis Treatment and Prevention

Summary of Mastitis Antibiotic Treatment Guidelines:


  1. Use antibiotics to eliminate an infection, not to just reduce the signs of infection. 
  2. It is important to maintain a sufficiently high antibiotic concentration at the site of infection.
  3. If not responding well, consider using approved drugs with increased dose frequency and duration of therapy rather than quickly resorting to last-resort, broad-spectrum antibiotics.  
  4. Culture and test the identified organisms for antibiotic resistance by determining the mean inhibitory concentration (MIC), which can also be helpful in determining the correct dosage to administer.  If you use systemic therapy, calculate the regimen based on the unique pharmacological parameters of the antibiotic and the MIC of the bacteria you are trying to kill. 


Remember that treating cows with antibiotics should be a small part of your mastitis control program.  The long-term solution lies in changing your management to prevent transmission.  Many herds have completely eliminated both Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus agalactiae from their herd by following some simple management procedures.”


Prevention and Control of the Contagious Udder Pathogens:


  1. Proper milking technique in the parlor to prevent teat injury and cow-to-cow transmission of pathogens
    • Proper management to prevent cow-to-cow transmission of pathogens by fomites.
    • Routine use of individual cow, disposable paper towels (versus cloth towels) for cleaning the teat.
    • Trimming long udder hair.
    • Automatic back flush system used after each milking.
  2. Routine use of germicidal teat dip applied after milking
    • Iodine – high (1%) and low (0.1–0.25%) concentrations
    • Chlorhexidine
    • Quaternary ammoniums
    • Sodium hypochlorites/Chlorox – very irritating
    • Anionic acids (naturally occurring soaps)
  3. Antibiotic dry cow therapy used according to label specifications.
  4. Treatment of cases of acute clinical mastitis.
  5. Cull cows with chronic infections.
  6. Keep infected cows segregated and use separate milking equipment to prevent transmission throughout the herd.


Potential causes of teat trauma


  1. Inappropriate vacuum: a vacuum level of 10.5–12.5 inches at the teat end during peak milk flow offers the best combination of rapid, complete milk removal with a minimal amount of physical harm. (A vacuum gauge should read 15 inches of mercury or 50 kilopascals)
  2. Inadequate massage –A cycle refers to the total time in seconds that a pulsator takes to complete one milk phase and one massage phase.  The massage phase is the ‘rest phase’ of the milking process, and should not be less than 0.35 sec.  The second phase is the ‘milking phase.’ Together the two phases are called the pulsator cycle.
  3. Pulsation ratio – usually 50:50 or 60:40: The pulsation ratio is the length of time in each cycle that the pulsator is in its milk phase compared to its massage phase.



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