Posted By: Bibby - Farm Vet

Consideration for grazing cattle to reduce the risk of Mastitis and High SCC

Turn out can reduce your workload but can still present problems with mastitis and cell counts, in both milking and dry cows.  To reduce the risk of dry cows developing mastitis in early lactation, or calving in with high cell counts, we recommend you only keep them in the same lying area for two weeks, then allow paddocks to rest for 4 weeks to control the build-up of bacteria on pasture.  If the season allows (!), trying not to graze your milking cows too tightly and not leaving them in the same paddocks for too long will also minimise the chance of udder infections during lactation.  The AHDB Mastitis Control Plan recommends not exceeding a stocking density of 100 cows / acre / day in a 2-week period.

Its important to make sure gate ways, high traffic areas , water troughs and areas under trees, where cows love to lye when it’s hot,  do not become too poached.  Using hard core to improve drainage of problem areas and mending that leaky water trough can really help prevent grazing cows picking up infections.   

Before turnout, consider how you will manage flies, whether you use permethrin impregnated ear tags, topical spot on or pour on, it is important to get these treatments on early in the season.  Controlling flies is important so we reduce the risk of summer mastitis.  Flies can act as vectors, spreading mastitis infections between cattle.  If you do find you have a dry cow or heifer, with summer mastitis, its important to isolate her from the group for treatment to reduce the risk of spreading infection to more animals.  We often see a higher fly burden in paddocks near wooded areas or water sources, extra vigilance when checking animals is important. 

In summary, even when turned out, dairy cows still need to have their environment clean and well managed to ensure we keep the risk of udder infections as low as possible.

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