Skip to Main Content Skip to Footer Content
Posted: 05/05/2023

Know the Signs, Symptoms and Solutions to Stop Summer Mastitis

Whether you raise beef or dairy cattle, mastitis can be detrimental to your operation, and it's an issue no one has time to mess with. With hot and humid weather approaching, flies will begin to appear all over your farm spreading bacteria along their path and increasing your chances of mastitis. Let’s dive into the details around signs and symptoms of the disease, as well as productive options to prevent and/or treat mastitis in your herd.

Close up pf dairy cow udders

Understanding Mastitis and What it Means for Cattle

Mastitis occurs when bacteria causes inflammation of the mammary gland and udder tissue – bacteria that is often spread by flies. Cows can also develop mastitis after a physical injury and/or trauma or from poor sanitation and hygiene practices. The potentially fatal mammary gland infection can impact both beef and dairy cows. It commonly affects dry dairy cows (particularly those at pasture) and heifers (which is more difficult to detect).

Cows can develop mastitis year-round, but cases tend to increase between June and August when the warm (and often wet) weather invites more fly activity. If you notice large fly groupings around cow udders or frequently kicking cows, these could be signs that an infection is present.

Mastitis Signs and Symptoms

Early detection of mastitis is critical for preventing disease progression and major losses. Look for these common mastitis symptoms in your animals:

  • Swollen teat(s), usually with flies around it
  • High temperature
  • Lethargic demeanor
  • A poor appetite
  • Lower milk yield
  • Lameness in hindlimbs
Pay extra attention to cows grazing near heavily wooded areas and standing water, as these are fly breeding grounds. Some producers choose to isolate animals with suspected infection to better monitor their teats. In extreme cases, one swollen teat can progress into a full swollen udder. An infected cow will have significantly lower milk production than other cows of similar age.

How Do You Prevent Summer Mastitis in Cows?

Beyond important fly control measures, there are several preventive options for producers looking to reduce the chance of mastitis making an appearance in the herd. Teat sealants for dry cattle (dairy cattle that are not currently being milked) can be the next line of defense to prevent intramammary infections by blocking access of pathogens into the mammary gland.

Consider one of these teat sealant products for your dry cattle:

Prevention for cows coming through the milking parlor is important as well. Be sure to always use proper sanitation and hygiene protocols along with one of these udder sprays to help keep the udder and teats disinfected and healthy:

Additionally, the J-VAC Coliform Mastitis Cattle Vaccine is an option for both dry and lactating cows, as long as they are otherwise healthy. This easy to administer 2-dose protocol has shown an 81% reduction in mastitis cases.

Mastitis Treatment Products

While prevention is a more proactive approach that’s often more cost-effective, producers can successfully treat cases of mastitis when they’re caught early. Customers tell us they like using Dr. Naylor Mastitis Indicators because it helps catch infections before they progress too far. It’s a simple cowside test with a color-change card that tests milk from the corresponding quarter of a cow’s udder.

If you do have infected animals, isolate them to avoid spreading the disease among the rest of the herd. Treatment products like these best-sellers can help reduce swelling and possibly save the rest of the udder:

As always, pay close attention to milk withhold and slaughter withdrawal times with all products. If you’re looking to stock up on mastitis supplies ahead of the summer, keep in mind that starting June 11, these and other treatment products will move from over the counter (OTC) labeling to prescription (RX). However, If we have any of these OTC-labeled products still in stock after June 11 (the ones manufactured and labeled before the change), they will be available for purchase without a prescription.

Stop Mastitis from Messing with Your Herd

If you’re ready to put mastitis prevention measures in place, shop PBS Animal Health for teat sealants, udder sprays and mastitis vaccines. Whether your cows are lactating or not, there are plenty of options to protect your animals. If you have questions about which product makes the most sense for your specific herd or lactation situation, talk to your veterinarian.

Visit The Learning Center For More Articles

Read the Latest