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Bovine Mastitis evolution: Latest trends in prevention & control strategies

Mastitis in dairy cows has evolved so much in the last years, not only in terms of types and classification but also regarding the prevalence of the main causative agents. New strategies need therefore to be applied to control bovine mastitis on our farms. Here’s a compilation of the latest trends in bovine mastitis control and the most effective techniques.

A renowned researcher and veterinarian specialized in milk quality has recently designed and published the 7 Point Plan for Mastitis Control.

This plan involves the development of the classic plans already mentioned, adapting them to new demands and incorporating technical advances and new findings, especially in the field of prevention and immunity, that have been introduced in recent years.

Bovine Mastitis: The 7-point control plan to fight mastitis in dairy cows (infographic)

The 7-Point vaccination plan adapts classic plans to the latest advances and findings, especially in prevention and immunity.

These are the most innovative aspects  included in this plan:

1. Selective dry cow therapy

Routine antibiotic treatment during the dry period, applied to all the cows, is one of the measures that has been called into question and has been abandoned by more and more farms.

It has been shown that when the conditions on the farm are suitable and if the guidelines that are established in every case by a specialist veterinarian are followed, selective dry cow therapy can be successful.

This selective dry cow therapy involves the intramammary administration of an antibiotic only to those animals with high somatic cell counts or which have suffered an episode of clinical mastitis in recent months.

2. New treatment protocols during lactation

Similarly, the prescription of antibiotic-based treatments for clinical mastitis during lactation has been restricted on many farms to cases of a certain severity, with only anti-inflammatories given to mild cases.

Isolation and sensitivity testing in the laboratory and on-farm culturing are tools that are increasingly being used by the veterinarian to decide whether or not it is appropriate to treat a clinical case.

3. Internal teat sealants

Applied after the final milking, these improve the effect of the natural barrier that prevents the ingress of pathogens into the mammary gland during the dry period, achieving a reduction in the incidence of cases of mastitis during the first part of lactation, a high proportion of which have their origin during this period.

Their use is always recommended, but it is especially important when selective dry cow therapy is practised and some of the cows are not given antibiotics.

4. Vaccines against bovine mastitis

Vaccines against bovine mastitis have proven to give an average economic return of 2.6 € for each euro invested.

On the other hand, various vaccines have been developed which cause a specific response to the most common pathogens which currently cause the greatest losses as a result of mastitis.

With vaccination, high concentrations of antibodies are obtained in the udder, these being the defensive molecules that specialise in combating the invasion of the gland by pathogens such as E. coli, S. aureus o Strep. uberis.

It has been shown, for example, that vaccination against E. coli mastitis, using J5 strains, achieves a reduction in the incidence and, above all, a considerable reduction in the severity of clinical cases, with moderate and severe cases being very infrequent in vaccinated herds.

Thus, in a study carried out on farms in the United Kingdom, an average economic return of 2.6 € was estimated for each euro invested in the vaccine.

In the case of Strep. uberis, a new vaccine has recently been developed which, when it is used in herds with a high incidence of mastitis caused by this pathogen, achieves a reduction in the number of clinical cases by half and also improves the efficacy of the treatments applied, which is reflected in an over 50% reduction in the use of antibiotics.

5. Immunostimulants and immunomodulators

These are molecules which, when administered on the days before or after calving, boost the defences in a general and non-specific way, increasing the animal’s capacity for response against infections.

CONCLUSION

Bovine mastitis remains the principal disorder that affects dairy herds, but its origin, the pathogens which cause it and the problems that are observed have changed with the modernisation of the sector.

Likewise, the strategies for combating it are constantly evolving to adapt to this new situation in which the use of antibiotics is limited and the focus is on preventive measures and the use of innovative vaccines to increase the cow’s capacity to defend itself against infections.

Author: Iván Mato.

Cattle veterinarian specialized in mastitis prevention techniques for improving milk quality on dairy farms.

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