The Mastitis Control Plan is a proven, structured, evidence-based, nationwide approach to mastitis prevention and control in dairy cattle. It is a cost effective solution and supports both good animal welfare and the consumer image of dairy farming.
Trained vets and consultants, also known as Plan Deliverers, use farm-specific information, such as milk records, clinical records and on-farm questionnaires, to identify the main factors contributing to mastitis on farm. All this information is brought together to produce a farm-specific set of practical recommendations.
It is important to understand that the reduction in cows with clinical mastitis does not happen purely because a Mastitis Control Plan was drawn up. Compliance and a willingness to change management practices and other areas of the farm, if needed, are essential. Studies show that the greater the level of compliance with the recommendations produced by the plan, the better the effect on overall mastitis incidence.
Farmers find a Plan Deliverer
Farmers are encouraged to contact their local veterinary practice to ascertain whether they have a trained and subscribing Mastitis Control Plan Deliverer. A map of registered Plan Deliverers can be found here.
Step 1: Looking at farm data
Milk recording data and clinical mastitis data for at least the last year will be reviewed by a Plan Deliverer. To be most effective, this data should be electronic, eg copy of on-farm software coupled with milk recording data from a milk recording organisation.
The Plan Deliverer will then analyse the data in detail, looking for patterns of seasonality and diagnosing whether the majority of infections in your herd stem from the dry period or the lactating period and whether infections are predominantly from the environment or spread from other infected cows.
The Plan Deliverer may also want to do some bacteriology in order to make a diagnosis.
Step 2: Farm visit
An on-farm questionnaire and survey will then be undertaken by the Plan Deliverer. All areas of the
farm will be looked at and management practices observed including at least one milking. The areas that will be most closely examined are:
• Cow housing, including dry cows and heifers
• Milking parlour function and milking routine
• Management of the dry period
• Treatment of mastitis
• Other areas such as biosecurity and youngstock management
Step 3: Action plan
The collected data and information from the questionnaire will then be evaluated and a list of specific action points will be generated.
Action points will be prioritised into ‘must’, ‘should’ and ‘could’ categories depending on their significance in tackling the current mastitis and somatic cell counts issues.
The Plan Deliverer will then use their clinical judgement to decide which action points will have the biggest impact, and should be addressed as a priority.
Discussions between the Plan Deliverer and farmer will take place to go through the action points and discuss how best they can be implemented.
A plan of action will be decided together and a date for review will be agreed, usually three months from the first visit.