The multi-billion dollar mastitis problem continues to plague the dairy industry causing dairy farmers to search for hope in the form of seminars, advice of consultants, and promises of a variety of teat dips, hormones and vaccines. Unfortunately none of these avenues has provided meaningful relief in spite of decades of research and the evolution of protocols resulting in an industry focus on cleanliness and management with a "blame the farmer" mentality. The best efforts to manage the problem lead to increased frustration as today's nice first calf heifers turn into tomorrow's culls.
The failure of the conventional wisdom sold to dairy farmers as a solution is a lack of recognizing the basic root cause of poor milk performance and mastitis. The two issues that must be understood are the damage inflicted upon the teat and teat canal by conventional milking machines and the transfer of contagious mastitis by conventional milking machines.
Anyone who has ever milked a cow has noted that the cows with the mastitis problems are typically those with the slow milking quarters and incomplete milkouts. These problems are not present at the time the first calf heifers are initially introduced to the milking process but become painfully present within a few months. The cause of these slow quarters is clearly due to the milking machine. A conventional milking machine fails to provide a proper rest phase when the liner closes. The pinching of the liner fails to provide the required relief for the teat canal producing scar tissue that can be easily felt by gently rolling and pinching the afflicted teats. The improper liner action also causes pain, liner crawl and liner squall leaving the teats swollen and reddened upon machine removal. Simply watching a cow milk reveals the basic fact that the milk flow NEVER stops during the rest phase, it just simply slows down as the liner just pinches on the tip of the teat.
The spread of contagious mastitis is also related to the improper liner action of a conventional milking machine in combination with dual pulsation. Contagious mastitis is transferred to the teats via two mechanisms. One is the liner squall that occurs as the liner presses against the base of the udder caused by liner crawl created by the failed proper rest action. The other is the pressure pulse created by a dual pulsation as one pair of liners closes. The evidence that contamination has occurred is shown by the fact that the teats are wet with milk after the machine is removed. This is further supported by the statement "Since the milking machine is one of the best washing machines every built, the teats are bathed with milk during the milking process" by Dr. Andy Johnson in A Proper Milking Routine: The Key to Quality Milk, 2000 National Mastitis Council Annual Meeting.
Any dairy farmer seriously interested in addressing mastitis and the general problem of poor milk performance must correct the problems discussed above. The solution will not come in the form of a teat dip, a protocol or a vaccine. The information provided at seminars and championed by consultants will only reduce the symptoms. The real root cause of mastitis on a well-managed dairy farm is the failure of the conventional milking system to provide proper liner action.
The only means presently available to address this is the CoPulsationtm Milking System. This product addresses each of the above problems and has been proven by university testing to work. In a side-by-side comparison this product virtually eliminated all new cases of Staph aureus while the conventional milking system spread the disease throughout the cows it milked. This is even in spite of the fact that the initial group of cows assigned to the CoPulsationtm Milking System had 5 confirmed cases of Staph aureus while the conventional group had none. The CoPulsationtm Milking System was also able to maintain an average bulk SCC of about 200,000 even with the assigned 5 cases of Staph aureus in the group of 15 cows.
If you are tired of mastitis and slow quarters after trying the accepted solutions, ask yourself if any of the presentations to be given at seminars such as the Texas Mastitis Round-up will really make any difference when implemented on your dairy farm. Challenge anyone that claims the conventional wisdom works to show the herd DHI data to determine if low cull rates and low SCC levels are really achieved with minimal mastitis.