What is Mastitis in Cows?

Mastitis in cows is the inflammation of the cow’s udder usually caused by an infection or bacteria. This inflammation and infection cause a number of symptoms, will directly impact milk quality and can be a significant cost to the cow and your herd performance.


Mastitis can largely be categorized into two types; sub-clinical (no visible symptoms) and clinical mastitis (visible symptoms).

Symptoms of Mastitis in Cows


  • Reduced milk production
  • A somatic cell count (SCC) of over 200,000 cells per ml


  • Changes in milk quality
  • Udder Swelling
  • Sick, unsettled cows

Causes of Mastitis in Cows

  • Mastitis in cows occurs when bacteria get into the cow’s udder which causes an infection.
  • These bacteria can be introduced in many different ways such as poor milking procedures, milking machine faults, teat injuries, and direct exposure to bacteria in the environment.

Problems from Mastitis in Cows

  • Mastitis in cows has a huge impact on milk production and can be fatal.
  • Subclinical mastitic is difficult to detect and contain.
  • Mastitis can be fatal.

Mastitis in Cows – Solutions

The prevention of mastitis in cows includes a number of important steps:

  • Reduce stress on cows by good stockmanship and ensure good cow flow through the milking parlour.
  • Ensure cows and udders are kept as clean as possible, with comfortable, dry, clean beds.
    All passageways, collecting yards and high traffic areas need to be scraped and kept clean.
  • Ensure good teat function by teat scoring a % of the herd regularly. React to teat damage quickly and check vacuum, pulsation and your milking machine.
    Clip tails regularly to keep udders clean.
  • Ensure calving pen hygiene is excellent.
    Manage transition diseases, especially milk fever as this reduces immunity and weakens teat muscles.
  • Good hygiene during the milking routine is very important.
    Where hygiene is a risk use an appropriate pre-dip for teat disinfection.
  • Check herd for other issues like lameness or disease that can be affecting immunity.
  • Keep milking time under 1 hour.
  • Review all treatments and use fore stripping to pick up and identify clinical cases early.
  • Review records and times of mastitis regularly. These patterns may help assess where risks are in relation to the time of the season.
  • Good mineral management will help improve immunity and help reduce mastitis incidents. Copper Zinc and Vitamin E play a key role in supporting the immunity function of the cow.

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