Build a brick wall against mastitis

By Dairy News

WESTVIC DAIRY offers specialised courses focusing on improving milking routines and decreasing mastitis on farms.

The Cups On Cups Off  (COCO) training program covers the entire milking process with special emphasis on mastitis prevention and control. This program is suited to all people who milk cows, whether they are owner/operators, family members, employed staff  or sharefarmers—the need for best practice is universal.

It is designed to achieve best practice in milk harvesting and the detection and treatment of clinical cases of mastitis. Topics covered include how and why infections occur, practical mastitis control, the importance of teat disinfection, reducing the risk of infection, how to detect and deal with clinical mastitis and the real cost of mastitis to your business.

Mastitis is defined as inflammation of the mammary glands, which are found in the udder. Since mammary glands are responsible for milk production, inflammation has serious implications for milk quality.

Mastitis is almost exclusively caused by bacteria entering the udder through the teat, so if we can prevent bacteria entering the teat, we can prevent mastitis. A cow’s ability to defend herself against bacterial invasion of the udder is quite remarkable. When we upset or interfere with the correct functioning of the teat, the cow’s ability to resist invasion is significantly compromised and a case of mastitis is likely to occur.

The chances of this happening are significantly increased if the teat is exposed to larger numbers of bacteria, for example, when cows lie down in mud. Milking machines also play a vital role in protecting the teat’s natural ability to minimise infection.

If machines are applied or removed incorrectly, not functioning adequately and hygiene is less than satisfactory, we are likely to cause infection. The diagram left shows there are many factors involved in protecting the cow’s natural defences and minimising exposure of the teat to bugs that can cause mastitis.

Some of these factors are the responsibility of the milking team, some are those of management. When all these factors (‘bricks’) are applied on-farm, they build a wall protecting the cow from mastitis.

However, the mortar that holds all these bricks in place are the workers, who need the correct training to ensure the best outcome for everyone. The next COCO course will be held in Koroit on January 16 and 23.

For more information or to book a spot, phone WestVic Dairy on 55571000 or email