Mastitis in dairy cows: keeping records

Recording information on mastitis is part of any good dairy herd recording system. Find out how good record-keeping can help you to monitor one of the most challenging diseases on dairy farms.

Back to: Monitoring and recording mastitis data in cows

Why is it important to keep records?

There are legal and farm assurance requirements to record veterinary medicine treatments, but medicine records alone are not detailed enough to be used for on-farm mastitis control.

Mastitis records can be used to:

  • Make better decisions about mastitis control
  • Target dry cow therapy
  • Identify the source of infection

Good information on the level of mastitis incidence and cure rates depends on accurate and consistent recordkeeping.

Dairy farmers, with assistance from their veterinary surgeon, must monitor all routes of mastitis infection. Therefore, a good system includes consistently recording accurate information about clinical mastitis cases on farm and all treatments used.

What information should be recorded?

The information recorded about clinical cases should as a minimum include:

  • Cow identity
  • Date treatment started
  • All treatment details, including dates of administration and the number of antibiotic tubes used
  • Length of withdrawal period

Recording the following additional information is extremely useful when reviewing the impact of mastitis on your herd and optimising control:

  • Date the case was detected
  • The quarter(s) affected
  • How severe the case was (‘mild’, clots only; ‘moderate’, clots and swollen udder; or ‘severe’, sick cow)
  • Outcome of the treatment (for example, success/failure/lost quarter/cull/other)
  • Mild cases of clinical mastitis, and any other cases that were not treated with antibiotic for whatever reason must be recorded so that the true level of mastitis is known. Outcomes about cure can then also be measured

When should data be recorded?

Legislative requirements and those of milk buyers have increased the importance of tackling subclinical mastitis and high somatic cell counts (SCCs) in the herd. As a result, recording individual cow SCCs has become more common. Recording individual cow SCCs is useful for managing mastitis. For a full understanding of herd mastitis patterns, it must be done at least every 2 months. In the absence of individual somatic cell counts , results of the California Milk Test can provide some information on subclinical mastitis.

Find out more about mastitis in cows and somatic cell counts (SCCs)

Mastitis in cows: what do records tell us?