CSI: Mastitis

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Ever watch those Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) shows on TV? Technicians analyze things found at the crime scene to try to piece together the story of what exactly happened and who the culprit of the crime is. Admittedly, the cases on the show are often unrealistic, but they tend to be interesting stories about scientific investigation.

If that is something you enjoy, then maybe you would be interested in learning how to culture your own milk samples. These techniques can help you uncover why a cow has mastitis and what the cause is.

Identifying the culprit — in the case of mastitis, the organism causing it — is the key to improving mastitis control and doing it yourself can be quite fun.

Michigan State University is offering a workshop on mastitis bacteriology to help you learn to culture milk and use different selective media, staining and other diagnostic tools to determine the organisms that cause mastitis. That workshop will be held Wednesday, June 27 at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

You’ll get an up-close look at microscopic colonies of different bacteria and pathogens that cause mastitis. You will not only learn how to identify the organism, but what to do about it. Culturing milk should be viewed as an investment in order to gain expertise in a practical “on-farm” tool.

Do-it-yourself milk culturing is not for everyone, but for those who are eager to learn, careful in their methods and committed to constantly improving milk quality and udder health, we encourage you to attend the workshop. On-farm culturing offers a way to obtain faster results and greater knowledge of mastitis.

Whether you have been culturing milk on-farm or are a novice, one of the benefits of attending is to develop the support group of other producers and professionals who can help you. I call this a Culture Club.

We know that as you get started, it is likely that you will have problems and lack confidence. Communicating with others in the same boat as you can help keep you going.

Registration for the workshop is $115 per person and is limited to the first 16 who register. If there is enough interest, we will offer a second workshop in August. To register, fill out the following form and send it to Dr. Ron Erskine with a check payable to Michigan State University.

Whether you plan to start culturing on your farm or not, make a commitment to get to know your mastitis pathogens better and to improve your control of them. Make a commitment to consistently producing high-quality milk.



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