Family cow with mastitis : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I have just bought an 8 year old Gurnsey and after having her for 3 weeks, she has developed mastitis. What happened? How can I treat this without the use of anitbiotics, if that's possible? Does the milk have to be thrown away? I am using part of it for feeding a calf. Any comments and helpful hints will be most appreciated.

-- Patrice Bertke (, August 01, 1999


In my experience most cases of mastitis are caused by infection by bacteria or mycoplasma. This means that antibiotic treatment is necessary to avoid secondary infections of her calf or even you. Do not use the milk unless pasteurized, but it likely will not taste "right". The antibiotics are usually infused into the mastitic quarter with a dose syringe. These are available at your local feed store or veterinarian. Hot compresses, frequent stripping, and a lot of TLC often help. Checking her temperature (normal is 39 C) is very important; the higher the temp the worse the mastitis. Dose until you see a break in the temp. Again, do not feed this milk to the calf or you will be giving it the antibiotics too. The calf needs to be milk replacer. I know, expensive, but he needs to eat too to avoid dehydration.

Another possible source of the problem is overfeeding the cow too soon after calving. There are many other causes of mastitis and a bacterial culture and evaluation by a veterinarian may be important. You have made a sizable investment in the cow already so paying for a vet may be worthwhile.

In most cases the infected quarter will dry up. After proper treatment the cow should be OK in her next lactation. If this becomes a recurrent problem, you must consider culling the cow.

Best of luck solving this problem. Nick & Linda

-- Nick (, August 03, 1999.

Thanks so much for the information. I did go to the local feed store after discussing the problem with a vet. Their answers were very much the same. In her case, she had injured herself when jumping a fence, which may have caused bruising of the udder. I'm surprised, however, how long it took for it to show up after the initial injury - about 2 weeks. I regret not asking the vet at that time about the possibility of masitis. Anyway, I bought 4 cephaprin sodium syringes and used them on all 4 quarters even though only one seems affected. The vet and the feed store owner, who is a very experienced dairyman, told me that it was o.k. to feed the calf this milk. Now I'm perplexed. I don't want any problems with him, but they both said that the anitbiotic would just pass right on through. True? I have thrown out all the milk and cream (snif) and had to go to the store to buy more, what a difference! I'm gonna get out the thermometer and milk her every 3-4 hours so she can get over this quick!! Thanks again, it's great to get a response.

-- Patrice Bertke (, August 03, 1999.

I'd be careful feeding the milk to the calf, especially if they are so young that they are not eating hay or grain. In extreme cases of mastitis there is no nutrition left in the milk and although the calf seems to nurse, it can become weak and die from malnutrition.

-- JCW (, August 09, 1999.

We are an organic dairy with 40 head of cows. We cannot use antibiotics on our cows unless it is an emergency and then we have to sell her or keep her out of the bulk tank for a year. We know of some people that use homeopathy very successfully with mastitis but we have a hard time getting those little pills to stay in our cows' mouths. : ) We have tried protein supplements that you give SQ and they help tremendously but I dont know how available you are to them. They are usually a whey based product. We have also used corn oil infused into the quarter with mastitis. They say the protein in the corn oil triggers a defense attack to the quarter therefore killing the bacteria that were there to begin with. I dont know if this is all true because everyone tells you different stories but this works fine on our cows. Again and again it has proved it works for us. It is a cheap thing to try and everyone has access to corn oil at the supermarket. As far as feeding treated milk to calves, we never had a problem with feeding our milk to the calves. We dont ship the corn oil treated milk for several days to make sure it is all out but we feed it to calves with no problems. When we were a conventional dairy and used antibiotics, we used the treated milk and fed calves with it with absolutely no problems. Good luck deciphering through all the advice. I hope your cow and calf do good with whatever works for you. Happy milking.

-- Traci Laing (, September 06, 1999.

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