You can’t assume that heifers are free of mastitis at calving.

“On average, 50 percent of heifers have some type of mastitis infection at freshening,” says Jerry Olson, veterinarian with Pharmacia Animal Health. “The good news is that infections often can be cleared if they are discovered and treated early.”

Olson provides these strategies to help you improve mastitis management in heifers:

  • Take composite fresh-heifer milk samples and send them to a reliable lab for culturing. Use the results to develop treatment protocols.
  • Compile clinical mastitis records for heifers. This helps you determine the prevalence of clinical mastitis and its economic impact.
  • Record monthly individual animal somatic cell counts on heifers. A reasonable goal is to have less than 20 percent of heifers with a first test day somatic cell count greater than 200,000 cells per milliliter.
  • Use the California Mastitis Test to detect subclinical mastitis in fresh heifers.