Avoid mastitis relapse with these three tips
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Have an Ace Up Your Sleeve With These Mastitis Management Tips

January 29, 2019
POSTED BY: Mark Kirkpatrick | DVM, MS | Managing Veterinarian | Dairy Technical Services | Zoetis

To help avoid mastitis relapse, have an ace up your sleeve with these best management practices.  

  1. Monitor individual cow somatic cell count (SCC).
    • Did you know cows with higher SCC are more likely to be classified with subclinical mastitis infections? SCC was identified as a key driver of profitability on dairies in a study by Zoetis and Compeer Financial that analyzed 11 years of herd data from 489 year-end financial and production-record summaries with an average herd size of 1,087 cows. The top one-third of herds in the study had a bulk tank SCC average of 132,000 cells/mL, while the worst one-third of herds had a bulk tank SCC average of 284,000 cells/mL. This difference in SCC was associated with an 11-pound difference in milk per cow per day, adding up to $159 in net farm income per cow. Strive to have no more than 10% of cows with a first test (5-45 days in milk) greater than 200,000 cells/mL in a given month of freshening. Use the individual data to make a “hot sheet” of cows with somatic cell counts greater than 200,000 cells/mL for closer monitoring of each animal on your dairy.
  1. Ensure a complete, bacteriological cure treatment.
    • An incomplete cure can lead to relapses and chronically infected cows. Monitor treatment success to make sure you’re seeing lower relapse rates and lower somatic cell counts. It’s the only way to know whether the treatment is working. While a cow may have an initial positive response to treatment, keep in mind if the full treatment course isn’t followed, we may not have had sufficient time above the minimum inhibitory concentration to effectively kill bacteria, opening the door for regrowth, resulting in reduced performance.
  1. Leverage genomics to help predict mastitis risk.
    • Genomic information can help provide a look into individual cows’ future productivity and wellness possibilities, allowing your dairy to milk the healthiest, most productive cows possible. For example, first-year results from the Wellness Trait Field Study — conducted by Zoetis and published online in the Journal of Dairy Science — demonstrated an association between direct genomic predictions for wellness traits from CLARIFIDE® Plus and associated disease outcomes, including: mastitis, lameness, metritis, retained placenta, displaced abomasum and ketosis. The results revealed cows in the best 25% — based on their respective genetic trait herd rankings — had 47% fewer cases of mastitis than cows in the worst 25% of the herd genomically.2

By controlling mastitis, you can gain profitability through higher milk production, better reproduction and enhanced milk quality. Healthier animals will help lower your treatment and labor costs and reduce the chance of cows getting other illnesses while in the hospital pen.

Learn more to help avoid the numbers game of mastitis.


1 Lormore M. What Drives Financial Success on a Dairy? Parsippany, NJ: Zoetis;2018.

2 McNeel AK, Reiter B, Weigel D, Osterstock J, DiCroce F.2017. Validation of genetic predictions for wellness traits in US Holstein cows. J Dairy Sci. https://doi 10.3168/jds.2016-12323




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