Controlling Mastitis in Your Herd
Having issues with mastitis in your herd? Or looking for ways to reduce your somatic cell count? Then the Countdown Mastitis Toolkit App could be just what you need (see Figure 1 below). Developed by Dairy Australia and Countdown 2020 with the help of dairy farmers, advisors and vets, the app provides valuable information on controlling mastitis as well as various tools and calculators to help with management and potential cost savings.
Figure 1: App home screen
The guidelines section gives a quick, yet detailed summary of how to control mastitis infection right throughout the season from lactation through to late lactation, drying off, the dry period and calving.
Under the topics section, a range of relevant and often common on-farm issues related to mastitis are given to help farmers deal with problems both before and after they arise. For instance, ‘new staff’ has its own section which provides vital information for new employees (particularly those who have had little experience in the dairy industry) on how to reduce mastitis through good milking techniques and stockmanship, as well as providing quick, yet precise notes on how to detect and treat mastitis.
The topics section also explains how to interpret the somatic cell count (SCC) reading on milk dockets as well as providing tips on how to record and graph SCC so any spikes in the data can be quickly picked up. Note that due to this app being developed in Australia, SCC is referred to as Bulk Milk Cell Count (BMCC) throughout the app.
The tools section is also very useful and provides quick, handy tools including calculators for mastitis, liner life, teat assessment, and antibiotic withholding periods. There is also a gallery of teats (see Figure 2 below) which shows which teat type is more prone to contracting mastitis as well as showing the likely cause of certain teat conditions.
Figure 2: The teat gallery section of the app listed under tools.
The clinical mastitis calculator is another great feature, under the calculator section, that uses the total number of cows treated for mastitis over a selected period of time to calculate the approximate cost to the farmer as a result of treatment and loss of production. Similarly, the somatic cell count calculator uses the current average SCC and the target SCC (set by you) to calculate the approximate net benefit per cow and the total net benefit for the herd per year in monetary terms. Again, due to the app being developed in Australia, monetary savings are in Australian dollars and are therefore estimates only in a New Zealand setting.
The liner life calculator is another interesting addition to the app that determines the date when liners should be changed to avoid environmental bacteria causing mastitis based on the age of the liner, number of cows milked, how often, and the liner type. A reminder can then be activated to set off an alarm when that date is reached.
Finally, the library section provides a large range of tips, articles and fact sheets on ways to manage and prevent the number of mastitis cases within the herd.