What is mastitis?
Mastitis is a disease that can affect the mammary gland of any mammal, including humans. In cows, this disease arises when bacteria infect the udder. Signs of clinical mastitis in cows include fever, a hot, swollen or painful udder, and visible abnormalities in the milk. A raised somatic cell count, without any clinical symptoms, can be a sign of sub-clinical mastitis.
Mastitis can become a herd problem if many cows become infected. It impacts on animal welfare and milk quality, value and production. Early detection of mastitis is important to avoid any harm to the cow and to prevent the infection from spreading to other cows in the herd.
Visual examination of the foremilk, measuring the somatic cell count and use of the Californian mastitis test help farmers to detect early signs of mastitis. Clinical cases of mastitis can be treated with antibiotics under the guidance of a veterinarian. The best way to avoid mastitis is to adhere strictly to farming protocols for good milking hygiene.