One of the most frustrating things that can happen to the homestead cow owner is having their cow develop a case of mastitis. Mastitis costs you money, interrupts the family’s milk supply and can lead to other health problems. A cow with a nasty case of mastitis that causes her to go off feed, could end up with costly surgery for a Displaced Abomasum. Most mastitis cases in dairy cattle are preventable and it is always better to prevent a problem than to have to treat it. Lets look at some of the simple management practices that you can implement to prevent this problem before it starts.
The key to preventing disease is a healthy immune system. A healthy immune system is not possible without proper nutrition. Keeping you cow in proper condition is very important. Very thin and very fat cattle are often more prone to health problems. It is also necessary to make sure your cattle are getting the vitamin, mineral and trace elements they need to stay healthy. Feeding a free choice mineral, salt and kelp meal will pay dividends in a healthier, trouble free cow.
Clean, Dry Housing
A dairy cow must have a clean, dry place to lay down. Whether in a barn or outside this must be provided if you want to have a mastitis free cow. Cows who lay down in mud, manure or wet bedding are much more likely to develop mastitis. If cattle are inside a barn, don’t be stingy with the bedding. If your cow is outside make sure they have some high, dry spots to lay down. If cattle outside need a dry place to bed down you can always shake up some hay, or better yet, unroll a round bale on some high ground. You should also make sure that the outdoor feeding areas are not slop holes. Move feeding areas around if need be, cows standing in mud up to their hocks is a recipe for disaster.
Proper Milking Prep
Proper preparation of the teats before milking is one of the most important things you can do. Teats should be cleaned with an udder wash solution and a clean washcloth or paper dairy towel. Pay close attention to the teat end when cleaning, as this area is recessed, and although the rest of the teat may look clean the teat end may still have dirt and manure on it. After cleaning the teat it should be dipped with a teat dip and wiped off after 30 seconds. After this your cow is ready to milk. The cow should be dipped with the teat dip again after milking, this time it should be left on and not wiped off.
Preventing mastitis is not rocket science. If you follow these 3 simple husbandry practices you will be on the right course.