Disease? Not On My Farm! Ambassador Blog
How to manage summer mastitis in cattle
When it comes to controlling summer mastitis, fly management should be the primary focus, alongside prevention of teat lesions, use of teat sealants and other good management practices.
Summer mastitis is an acute disease of non-lactating cattle, particularly dry cows and heifers. It is a bacterial infection spread by flies. Thorough checks and vigilance are vital as the infection is often advanced by the time clinical signs are noticed1.
Symptoms typically include a swollen teat, often with flies surrounding it, which can progress to a swollen udder in advanced cases. The animals are often standing apart from others, dull, lethargic, with poor appetites and usually hindlimb lameness.
Prompt treatment is essential if any of the clinical signs are found, as the bacteria has often caused substantial and irreversible damage to the teat tissue by the time clinical signs are noticed. Recovery of the infected quarter is rare, and can significantly impact the animal’s future productivity, especially if infection is prior to the first calving2. Speak to your vet immediately for advice.
Proactive fly control
Once temperatures rise above 10⁰C fly populations can increase rapidly. So don't wait until the flies are visibly active before thinking about treating your herd.
One option for reducing cattle’s exposure to flies is Butox® Swish, a pour-on treatment which when applied early in the season, means flies are killed off before they get the opportunity to breed, in turn keeping the fly population lower.
Re-applying this same treatment 8-10 weeks later, and ensuring animals are accurately dosed according to bodyweight ensures that fly control remains effective throughout the summer months. Butox Swish, has no milk withdrawal period and therefore no break in milk production is required*.
Preventing the spread of summer mastitis
Good fly control is vital to preventing against summer mastitis alongside other good management protocols, including:
- Avoiding grazing sandy pastures, pastures near woodlands and high hedges, and near waterways (particularly stagnant water)
- Correct drying off protocols and use of teat sealants
- Thorough and regular monitoring of non-lactating animals in spring and summer
- Monitoring and control of teat lesions.
In the field advice
Disease? Not On My Farm! Ambassador
Disease? Not On My Farm! Ambassador, Michael Oakes advocates prioritising fly control measures. Experience has shown him that early intervention is better than cure if summer mastitis and its crippling affects are to be avoided.
“Flies thrive in mild, damp and sheltered spots, so we find that transmission is more evident in dry cows or heifers next to woods and brooks,” says Mr Oakes.
“Taking preventative measures or acting quickly with treatment, has often avoided summer mastitis quickly becoming a toxic issue and ruining a good cow.”
Using a preventative approach against summer mastitis can have considerable benefits, as producer Jess Langton has found, with not a single case in the past year.
“We choose bulls that have a good genetic potential for low stomatic cell counts, alongside production traits,” Ms Langton states. “Our herd is genomics tested, allowing us to select the cows with the best potential for cell counts too.
“We also use a pour on treatment early on in the season and reapply later to help ensure that fly population remains low.”
Disease? Not On My Farm! Ambassador
*Withdrawal periods: milk zero hours / meat 20 days
Butox® Swish, Pour-on Suspension 0.75% w/v, contains deltamethrin, POM-VPS
Further information is available from the SPC, Datasheet or package leaflet. MSD Animal Health UK Limited. Registered office Walton Manor, Walton, Milton Keynes MK7 7AJ, UK. Registered in England & Wales no. 946942.
Advice should be sought from the medicine prescriber.
Use Medicines Responsibly.