Dairy Focus e-Newsletter
July 2013
Dairy Focus e-Newsletter July 2013

What does a clinical case of mastitis cost?

We recently had a final year veterinary student, Emma Liersch from Charles Sturt University, doing some of her practical placement work with us at Dairy Focus.

It's been about 6 years since Countdown's last estimate of the cost of a clinical case of mastitis, so to give Emma a project as part of her work with us, we gave her the task to research and recalculate this cost.

Emma enthusiastically worked her way through the various cost elements, researching each using the available science and also industry contacts such as factory field officers, vets, etc.

The end result is that, not surprisingly, the cost of a typical clinical case of mastitis has risen in the last 6 years – up from $230 to about $270 now.

Cost Item $
Cost of treatment
  Intramammary antibiotics - 3 tubes
  Injectable antibiotics - 1 in 10 cases
  Vet visit - 1 in 100 cases
  Extra time in the shed - 5 min/milking
Discarded milk  - 7 days @ 25 l/day 67 70
Decreased yield for remainder of lactation
5700 litre cow, 3.4% reduction, 305 days
76 78
Risk of mortality - 1 in 150 cases 5 10
Risk of culling - 7 in 100 35 70
Risk of contaminating vat with antibiotics
1 in 750 cases
1 3
Total $229 $277

Whilst every clinical case is in some way different to another, and costs will vary from case to case and farm to farm, this is a "ball park" figure for a typical clinical case on a typical farm, and is best used to give an indication of the economic impact of clinical mastitis on a farm.

In fact, many farmers have considered these numbers to be conservative, especially for higher producing herds.

A simple way of thinking about this number is that every 4 clinical cases of mastitis now cost over $1000.

Thus clinical mastitis remains a significant cost, but it is not possible to have a dairy farm and have absolutely no mastitis at all. So how much mastitis is too much mastitis?

Countdown has given us a clear set of trigger points for this question –

“Your herd has a significant problem if there are more than five clinical cases per 100 cows in the first month of lactation, or two clinical cases per 100 cows in subsequent months of lactation.”

If every 4 clinical cases cost over $1000, then it is clearly a significant expense to be at ,or above, these trigger points!

Yet it is perfectly achievable for Australian dairy farms to be below these trigger points.

The easiest way to assess your herd against these triggers is to obtain a Countdown Mastitis Focus report.

If you are unable to obtain a Mastitis Focus report, then some basic arithmetic using your case records will work this out.

If you would like to know more information, then just click here to go to our website.

Has your dry-off budget increased the risk of mastitis at calving?

Given the difficult year and tight cash flows, treatment cost at drying-off has been closely scrutinised and some farms have needed to compromise in favour of cost.

We should consider the impact of a compromise in terms of the two broad goals for dry-off treatment -
  • Treatment of existing infections
  • Prevention of new infections
The options at dry-off will have included antibiotic dry cow therapy, teat sealant (or a combination of both), blanket therapy, selective therapy, and different choices for different cows.

The options chosen at drying-off will probably be the single biggest influence on the risk of mastitis at calving and in early lactation!

If you had to choose an option at drying-off that was not necessarily “the best”, there may be a “work around” to lessen the risk.

A specifically constructed calving management plan will help to reduce that risk, and commonly this may involve little or no monetary expenditure, but it may require a bit more effort and work - the choice is yours!

We recommend that you take the time to discuss your options with your vet/adviser to see how you can get the best result.

And remember that any supporting information that you can bring to a discussion with your adviser, e.g. milk culture results, clinical case records, etc., will aid that discussion.

At Dairy Focus, we have developed a telephone/webinar facility to be able to effectively discuss these options.

And no matter what option you decide on, prevention of clinical mastitis and new infections at calving has got to ge a good outcome for the rest of the lactation!

In this issue

Wet weather has returned

In many regions, the wet has returned and once again there is mud!

And with mud comes an increase in the risk of mastitis, so here is a link to mud and wet weather related resources at our website

Contact Us

Dairy Focus

Rod Dyson
Rob Moyle
Robyn Dyson

03 58590706

03 58590390



If you would like further information on any of these topics, please call or email us at the Dairy Focus office.
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