Mastitis reduction in an indoor-housed herd (use of sand beds)
Mastitis is one of the leading causes of antibiotic use on UK dairy farms. A high yielding herd housed all-year-round has reduced their mastitis rate to 13% through a series of measures, as seen in this video.
These include installing an Automatic Dipping and Flushing (ADF) system for the teat clusters, swapping from straw bedding in cubicles to sand and changing their pre-dipping routine to using an iodine-based dip and paper towels.
This has resulted in a drop in environmental mastitis caused by E. coli and Strep. uberis. These types of bugs thrive in dirty bedding, which is now less of a problem for this farm since they made the change to sand. Bugs in the environment can cause mastitis when pre-dipping routines are poor, so attention to effective cleaning of teats before milking is key. The ADF system ensures the spread of bugs through the milking equipment is also minimized.
Not only has a lower mastitis rate meant reduced antibiotic treatments, which has also saved the farm money, but the farmers have also eliminated the use of Critically Important Antibiotics (CIA). The CIA were often used for mastitis cases and now the farmers find there is less need for them. The farmers also found taking part in a farmer-led research project with the University of Bristol and being benchmarked against other farms in their producer pool very helpful in learning which products were CIA and focusing on specific changes to help prevent disease.