Dealing with Mastitis

In addition to being a full time computer geek for a private college and being the technology side of Homesteader’s Supply, I have a small family farm which supplies me and my family with food for the year. Last year, I got my full dose (and more) of dealing with Mastitis in my two Jersey cows. I still don’t know what strain it was… I have a pretty good idea as to the cause and there are a few contributing factors… All I do know is that once it was there… I pretty much had to dry them up and treat them with both herbal and antibiotic remedies to get rid of it… and I’m thankful that this year has been mastits free!!!

“Mastitis is persistent and potentially fatal mammary gland infection, leading to high somatic cell counts and loss of milk production. Mastitis is recognized by a reddening and swelling of the infected quarter of the udder and the presence of whitish clots or pus in the milk. Treatment is possible with long-acting antibiotics but milk from such cows is not marketable until drug residues have left the cow’s system.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dairy_cattle

My girls, Cookie Cow and Mustang Sally both ended up with Mastitis last year. Cookie first and after a battle with a bad case of upper respiratory infection, Sally contracted it. Neither of my girls had the redness or too much pain. The flaking in the milk (whitish clots) is what caught my eye. Apparently this is the increased Somatic cell count – because testing with the California Mastitis Test kit revealed the presence of Mastitis. I used the CMT kit and the cards to check on the progress of healing the mastitis. It was NOT an easy task believe me. I lost most of Sally’s lactation to this nasty infection. The best remedy was a product called ‘Mastoblast’ – it’s herbal and doesn’t require giving your girl an injection. It cleared the mastitis up the best, but the mastitis came right back if you stopped using the product after the recommended 10 days. I also injected 30 cc of Penicillin G with Procaine once daily beneath the skin – not into the muscle. I did this to these poor girls for 5 days the first time – then after it reoccurred, I extended the injections to 7 days the second time… after BOTH series of shots the mastitis returned. I also bought the teat infusion products – Masticlear, Today, etc… I tried just treating the infected quarter for the recommended duration and then treated ALL four quarters for the recommended duration. Again the mastitis returned a few days after treatment. Feeling like a failure in beating this – I let the cows dry up and infused yet another teat product into the udder… this one was called Tomorrow and was a long acting antibiotic – not to be milked out. I treated both cows and allowed them to completely dry up.

This year we did experience some flaking after a particulary muddy monsoon season and what worked best was VITAMINS!!! Specifically, vitamin E (1,000 I.U. daily), vitamin C (6,000 mg daily) and a few capsuls of red raspberry leaves. If they had any flaking, this combo with some good ol’ molasses drizzled over their evening meal did the trick. All flaking was gone by the next day! By no means am I suggesting that antibotics don’t work and that testing isn’t needed. Last year could have been a very different strain than this years tiny flaking. I wouldn’t hesitate to use the Tomorrow dry cow treatment again because it did cure last year’s nasty infection. I also wouldn’t be without the CMT kit. I do encourage all dairy cow owners to be clean, clean clean when milking their cows. A few squirts of antibacterial soap on a clean wet cloth for washing, then a clean damp cloth for ‘rinsing’ and yet another for drying. It’s a bit more work than simply wiping off the teats, but this years lack of infections proves to me that clean is best.

Happy milking!!!!

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