Dairy production: mastitis.

With contribution from P.E. Vingirai

Today we talk about mastitis. Mastitis is critical in dairy because dairy animals are more at risk because of their genetics, but also because mastitis directly affects productivity and income for the dairy farmer.

Mastitis is the inflammation of the udder caused by bacteria, i.e. Staphylococus agalactiae, Staphylococus pyogens, streptococcus dysagalactia, streptococcus aureus,streptococcus uberis,corynebacterium pyogens, pseudomonas and Escherichia coli.

Mastitis is an inflammation, and like all inflammation, it is accompanied by various degree of:

  • swelling:-udder may be visibly swollen.
  • heat:-it may be hot to the touch initially
  • loss of function:- in mastitis, usually seen through changes in milk consisteny: blood clots; thick milk; pus in milk; watery milk.
  • pain:-acute swelling causes pain.


Mastitis can be controlled by various regimes. I highlight a variation of a popular control regime called the ten point plan.

Ten point Mastitis Control Programme

  1. Teat dipping:- Using special disinfecting “dips”/chemicals.
  2. Dry cow therapy:- Using a long-acting antibiotic treatment when the animal is not producing milk.
  3. Culling of persistent cases
  4. Sampling and somatic cell counts
  5. Treatment of cases
  6. Maintaining milking machines: hygiene/disinfection.
  7. Correct milking procedure: complete milking, avoid traumatising/bruising udder.
  8. Cleaning of teat cups in between milkings
  9. Milker’s hygiene
  10. Cleaning of the milking palour
  11. Fly control

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