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Mastitis: An Inflammation of the Udder which Leads to Reduced Milk Production

Mastitis is an inflammation of the udder caused by bacteria, which can lead to reduced milk production and quality.

Aarushi Chadha
The predominant cause of mastitis in cows is a bacterial or fungal infection of the teat canal.

Mastitis is a disease that causes severe inflammation of the mammary gland and udder tissues of dairy cattle. The inflammation occurs in response to bacterial invasion of the teat canal and can also occur as a result of chemical, heat, or mechanical injury to the udder.

Types of clinical mastitis

  1. Mild Clinical Mastitis- Mild cases of clinical mastitis can be detected by observing the milk produced by the affected cow. For instance, the appearance of clots, change in colour, and alteration in viscosity of milk are an indicator of the disease. In a mild case of clinical mastitis, the udder is not inflamed, the cow doesn’t have a fever, and it eats and drinks normally.

  2. Moderate Clinical Mastitis- In moderate cases of clinical mastitis, there are noticeable changes to the milk and the udder of the affected cows. As seen in mild cases of mastitis, there will be similar changes in the milk in the case of moderate clinical mastitis. The udder will seem inflamed. For instance, it will appear red, swollen, and hot. Despite these symptoms, the cow will have a normal temperature and will continue to eat, drink, and milk normally.

  3. Severe clinical mastitis- In the case of severe clinical mastitis, cows become very sick. There are obvious changes in their milk and udder, and they also develop fevers, go off feed, do not produce milk, and quickly become weak and dehydrated.

Causes of clinical mastitis in cows

The predominant cause of mastitis in cows is a bacterial or fungal infection of the teat canal. However, mastitis can also be caused by physical, heat, or clinical damage to the udder tissue. Mastitis can be spread through the milker’s hands, clothes, or the milking machine. Flies and other insects can also spread the infection. Also, cows laying on the bedding ground of infected cows can catch the disease.

Signs and symptoms of mastitis

  • Swelling of udder as a hard mass.

  • Reduced milk yield.

  • Lower quality of milk.

  • Swelling and reddening of teats.

  • The animal will not allow anybody to touch the udders and become violent.

  • Milk mixed with blood

  • Milk is mixed with yellow or brown fluids with flakes or clots with a foul smell.

Mastitis leads to-

  • Disposal of contaminated milk

  • Reduced milk yields due to illness and permanent udder damage

  • Premature culling and reduce longevity

  • Additional labour and veterinary costs associated with treating affected cows

  • Higher susceptibility to other diseases

  • Has a negative effect on fertility

How to prevent mastitis in cows?

  • Cows should be provided clean, dry, and adequate bedding for them to lie down, especially after parturition.

  • Cubicles and loose housing facilities should be kept as clean as possible, with fresh bedding applied regularly to reduce the risk of cross-contamination from one cow to the next.

  • Cows should be cleaned before entering the milking area. Cow teats and udders can be cleaned with a paper towel or cloth. Make sure to use a clean cloth on every cow. Also, ensure that the teats are completely dry before milking.

  • The milker should disinfect their hands before milking the cow with antiseptic lotion.

  • The floor of the milking shed should be washed with running water.

  • Cattle should be handled carefully and calmly in order to reduce stress and avoid cows being rushed through areas where muck could cause excessive udder soiling.

  • Milking equipment should be kept meticulously cleaned and regularly checked for correct functioning to prevent physical tear damage. Over-milking should also be avoided in order to safeguard teat and udder health.

  • Feed the cows after milking so that they don’t lie down immediately. This prevents the entry of microorganisms into teat canals that are still open from milking.

  • Try controlling the fly population should be attempted by spraying insecticidal spray in the surrounding.

Treatment for mastitis

The treatment and management of mastitis include drying off the udder and applying prescribed antibiotics to the udder.

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