BOVINE mastitis is a common and costly infection that many dairy farmers will be all too familiar with. The painful inflammation of the mammary gland, which is often a result of an infection caused by pathogens in the environment, leads to decreased milk production, costing farmers time and money, as well as negatively impacting the cow’s welfare.
In fact, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board estimates that each case of mastitis can cost a farmer between £250 and £300, as a result of the culmination of veterinary costs, treatment, reduction in yields and loss of milk. Aside from antibiotics, though, dairy farmers have few tools to treat the infection, which means prevention is key to ensuring the herd produces a high-quality and stable yield throughout the year.
To do so, farmers should look to increase levels of hygiene to prevent this common and costly infection, advises BASF’s Country Business Manager for Professional and Specialist Solutions, Laurence Barnard (pictured):
“A focus on hygiene is one of the most simple an economical ways to reduce the risk of mastitis in your herd, and more frequent and thorough use of disinfectants is the key,” he says.
To effectively use disinfectant as part of your milking routine, Laurence suggests the following approach:
n Ensure housing is kept clean, as this will reduce the number of pathogens transferred to the milking parlour. It is unlikely farmers will be able to clean the entire building at one time, but making sure that individual enclosures are cleaned when vacant is essential. Remove all bedding regularly and wash surfaces with a disinfectant solution, before replenishing with fresh bedding.
n Thoroughly clean and disinfect cubicles, ideally between each milking to follow best practice, but as a minimum twice daily. First, use water to remove muck and debris in the cubicle, then follow with a disinfectant solution..
n Disinfect clusters and milking equipment between cows, not forgetting to use water to rinse systems before and after a disinfectant solution is used to prevent debris and chemicals from remaining in the system.
n Any additional equipment that is being used in conjunction with milking should be disinfected before being used. Farmers should use a clean bucket and a solution of disinfectant to wash all equipment, and the solution should be changed frequently to prevent the build-up of bacteria.
n Bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms are often present on clothing and boots. Those working with dairy cows should wear clean overalls and dip boots in disinfectant to reduce the risk of introducing harmful diseases. Before entering the parlour, always remember to wash hands with an anti-bacterial soap and always wear an unused pair of gloves, especially when handling cows.
Disinfectants like BASF’s Sorgene Xtra can be used for general hygiene, spraying or specific disease and infection control depending on the concentration used and application techniques.
Laurence adds: “Sorgene Xtra is a DEFRA-approved, broad-spectrum environmental disinfectant, which contains a stabilised blend of peracetic acid and hydrogen peroxide. It is effective against viruses, bacteria, and hard-to-kill fungal spores.
“It can be used at a dilution rate of 1:200 for general hygiene, including accommodation areas, machinery, feeding equipment, and milking equipment, offering a cost-effective solution to increasing hygiene on dairy farms. What’s more, it breaks down after use and leaves no residue, so no rinsing is necessary.
“These simple steps and effective tools will help reduce the risk of mastitis in dairy cows and reduce the chance of farmers suffering substantial financial losses, as well as protect the welfare of their herd,” concludes Laurence.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.