A “Survey of Mastitis Management on Dairy Farms” was completed by dairy producers in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida in early 2013. The survey was developed as a part of a research study by Michigan State University Extension, Penn State University Extension, Florida A & M University and Mississippi State University.
Among common milking parlor practices, the survey indicated:
• 86% disinfect teats (pre-dip) before milking
• 57% wear gloves when milking
• 34% massage teats (other than stripping) before milking
• 89% use separate towels for each cow
• 93% disinfect teats (post-dip) after milking
• 22% use water in the prep of cows for milking
In addition to parlor practices, producers also reported their bulk tank somatic cell count (SCC), allowing
Extension specialist to correlate udder health as reflected by SCC:
• Pre-dipping was positively correlated with lower SCC
• Post-dipping was positively correlated with lower SCC
• Wearing gloves was positively correlated with lower SCC
• Use of water or washing teats was negatively correlated with lower SCC
Not only does the research on these practices tell us what is effective in reducing mastitis, but so too, do the results on farms where they are practiced.
Other factors related to managers and employees correlated with lower SCC included:
• the level of importance given by owners to recruiting, retaining, training and motivating employees.
• the owner’s regular appearance in the parlor during all milking shifts, taking time to observe work of employees, commend positive actions and correct negative ones.
• the owner’s attitude about mastitis. Owners who took responsibility for udder health achieved better udder health, whereas those who blamed mastitis on external factors – including “bad luck” – had higher SCC.
The survey of mastitis practices reminds us that those who achieve the greatest success have some common characteristics – including attitudes and actions – that keep everyone doing what is best for the cow to fight this costly disease.