Mastitis remains one of the most challenging endemic diseases affecting dairy cows both in Ireland and further afield.

Money spent on items like purchased feed, fuel, fertiliser and medicines is felt directly by dairy farmers, but the true cost of sub-optimal health and milk production is more difficult to measure, despite the large impact it has on the overall profitability of a dairy enterprise.

The current average incident rate of clinical mastitis is between 47-65 cases per 100 cows per year.

Cost of Mastitis

The total cost of clinical mastitis comprises several different factors, such as:

  • Waste milk
  • Reduced yields
  • Increased numbers of culls
  • Increased use of medicines
  • Increased labour requirements
  • Veterinary costs

Sub-clinical Mastitis

Sub-clinical mastitis, as measured by somatic cell count (SCC), is associated with increased numbers of animals being culled, waste milk and reduced milk yields, with a typical loss of 0.5 litres of milk a day. It is, as a result, vital that individual farms take the time to calculate what mastitis is likely to cot them.

When penicillin was introduced in the 1940’s, it was assumed that with such an effective treatment, mastitis would soon be eliminated. Unfortunately, this proved not to be the case and the average incident rate of clinical mastitis has not decreased significantly in the last 10-15 years.

Improved Routine

By implementing a good pre/post-milking routine and maintaining high levels of parlour hygiene, the risk of mastitis is reduced, as are the associated costs.

For more information on how to implement better pre/post-milking routines and for tips on parlour hygiene, check out our resources page. 

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