Mastitis, or inflammation of the udder, is of great importance in dairy cattle. Even in well managed dairy herds, on average 15% of the cattle are infected with mastitis bacteria. Up to 75% of the cattle in poorly managed herds can be infected with mastitis. The infection is very painful for the cows. Mastitis infected quarters produce between 15% and 30% less milk, as compared to healthy quarters. Mastitis in dairy cattle cannot be fully prevented, but its’ frequency, severity and the economical losses caused by this disease can be drastically reduced.
Mastitis leads to suffering in the affected cows due to painful infection, losses in milk production, premature culling of dairy cows and reduced incomes of dairy farmers. At the same time mastitis treatment is costly and quite often inefficient. For this reason it is very important to do everything possible in order to prevent mastitis and reduce its occurrence.
Milk sample: (A) normal milk, (B) mastitis - discoloured, yellowish, here also tinged with blood
(c) John B. Bashiruddin
Treatment of mastitis is costly, difficult and can easily cause more harm than good. Especially where no information from laboratory milk analysis is available the success rate of mastitis treatments is very low. Therefore doing everything possible to prevent mastitis is by far more important than trying to treat mastitis infections.
May 2013: contributed by by Dr Mario Younan (DVM, PhD), Regional Technical Advisor for VSF-Germany, working in East Africa since 1995