Mastitis is an inflammatory response of the mammary gland caused usually by bacteria. It is regarded as the most common disease among dairy cows. Mastitis manifests in different forms which include mild, moderate and severe. Mild and moderate mastitis can often disappear in a few days with no treatment or with massage and hand stripping of the quarter. However the bacteria may still be there and therefore might develop into chronical mastitis. Treatment of mastitis in cows depends on the severity of the infection. For this reason, farmers must be able to distinguish between various levels of the disease. In addition, knowledge of the appropriate dosage and handling technique is necessary. Errors made during treatment of mastitis in cows can jeopardize its effectiveness and sometimes worsen the situation, hence a detrimental effect.
Table Of Contents
Use of antibiotics is the most common and effective measure of treating mastitis in cows. As previously mentioned, successful treatment of mastitis with the use of antibiotics is determined by infection severity as well as the type of bacterial infection. This is because each of these require different types of antibiotics. Intramammary antibiotic tubes are the most common treatment for mild and moderate cases of mastitis and are usually administered without knowledge of the type of bacteria responsible for the infection. They must be considered as the first line treatment for cows with mild uncomplicated mastitis in a single quarter. Systemic antibiotics should be used when more than one quarter is affected, when udder changes are marked or when minor symptoms begin to occur. Note that a veterinary medical professional should be engaged, especially in determining the type of medication and dosage required. In fact, antibiotics should only be administered after consultation and as per specialised guidelines.
Commonly prescribed dosages range between 10 to 12.5mg per kg, varying with the type of antibiotics. Some may require a higher dosage. Antibiotics that are usually used in the treatment of mastitis in cows include amoxicillin, ceftiofur, cephapirin, cloxicillin, hetacillin, penicillin and a lincosamide (pirlimycin). Some farmers report cases of antibiotic failure and so it is important to properly administer medication. Antibiotics hardly fail in the treatment of mastitis for cows. Failure is often due to wrong type of medication, inappropriate dosage and re-infection (treatment is successful but the cows is infected again). Successful antibiotic therapy involves drugs reaching all sites of infection within the infected quarter as well as remaining at adequate levels at all sites of infection for an adequate period of time, thus killing mastitis bacteria.
Clay is known for its therapeutic properties especially its high absorbency and has been proven to be effective in treating inflammations caused by mastitis. For this reason, it can be used as an alternative to antibiotics for the treatment of mastitis in cows. Clay dressing is prepared by mixing it with water or olive oil. When using water, make sure that it is at room temperature. Some farmers opt for a compromise by combining half oil and half the amount of water. The paste formed will then be used to dress the inflammations on the udders. Note that this should be done after milking. The therapeutic effect of the paste may be increased by adding 2 to 3 drops of pine or thyme oil for every 2 litres of mixture. Once dry, the clay is removed and replaced for about 2 to 3 times daily. For oil mixtures, successful treatment of mastitis in cows is evident when the udder stays oily after the dry clay has been removed. Clay therapy often produces results within 2 to 3 days for chronic mastitis and roughly 6 hours for acute mastitis.
Oxygen therapy is increasing becoming popular as a control measure for various diseases. As such, some farmers are already employing oxygen therapy for the treatment of mastitis in cows. Hydrogen peroxide is usually used in oxygen therapy. An alternative is the Koch Treatment for mastitis in cows which has an oxygenating substance similar to peroxide for its base. This treatment is sold in 5 cc ampoules, which is the advisable dosage treatment dosage. Usually about 1 to 2 dosages are given but rarely 3. Administering the medication involves injecting it into the neck or shoulder muscle using a hypodermic needle. The Koch treatment method provokes reactions in 21 day cycles but eventually fades. The treatment is effective for a period of approximately 1 to 2 years.
Treatment of mastitis in cows using antibiotics is expensive thus is often sought in severe cases. Farmers may choose to treat the infection through the use of natural herbs and oils, which is referred to as Phytotherapy. The following are the commonly used herbs and oils:
Peppermint, Oregano and Tea Tree
The most commonly used oils include peppermint, oregano and tea tree. These are known for their superior ability to fight bacteria that causes mastitis. Oils should always be used with a carrier oil. Oil treatment is administered by applying some of it (one type of oil should be used) to the outside udder. It is also important to keep the infected quarter stripped out in order to starve bacteria. In severe cases where live stock are off feed, this technique helps to keep the toxins at minimum. Premade creams contain essential oils therefore can also be used for treatment of mastitis in cows.
Another form of herb treatment that has proven to be effective is garlic. In fact, it is considered to a natural antibiotic. Garlic tincture is readily available in most supermarkets worldwide. The recommended dosage is approximately 6 to 30ccs for up to 3 consecutive days. It is advisable to start off with 6ccs once a day or 3ccs twice daily. Garlic also helps to boost the immune system thereby preventing chances of re-infection.
Aloe Vera can also be used for treatment of mastitis in cows. It plays an important role in boosting the immune system thereby helping animals to fight off mastitis infection. Aloe Vera in liquid form can be administered orally at a dosage of 300ccs twice daily. An alternative is a mixture of Aloe Vera (200g), turmeric powder (50g) and lime (5g) paste. According to the agricultural community, this method is suitable to treat all types of mastitis without any adverse effects. Treated animals are expected to recover within 5days of treatment.
Dried Kelp and Pasteurised Whey
Dried Kelp is also another form of using herbs in the treatment of mastitis in cows. Dried kelp can be given to livestock at 57g once daily. Some farmers have reported successful treatment cases using pasteurised whey. It is administered at 30cc every day for up to 3 days. Pasteurised whey is another immune system booster that helps livestock to develop some form of resistance against bacteria that causes mastitis. Keep in mind that these methods are often applied in treating mild to moderate cases and so severe infection must be treated by a certified veterinary professional.