Animal Health Ireland (AHI) has offered some advice to farmers on how to obtain a sterile milk sample to determine the bacteria causing mastitis on their farms. During the milk production season, it is common to see a number of cases of mastitis, which is why it is important to know the bacteria causing it. Knowing which bacteria is causing mastitis is vital to ensure that the correct treatment is given, and the cow recovers quickly. Treating cows with the wrong antibiotics may result in the infection not clearing up in a timely manner and increase the amount of time the cow spends out of the tank.
To determine the bacteria causing mastitis, a sample of the mastitis cases within the herd should be taken, which will allow for the bacteria at fault to be identified. To ensure that farmers are able to take a sterile sample that can then be correctly analyzed, AHI has offered some advice.
To ensure a sample is taken correctly, farmers will need sterile sample bottles, a marker to label the bottle, disposable gloves, disinfectant/cleaning solution and paper towels, a mixture of 70% alcohol and cotton balls or disinfecting teat wipes for disinfecting teat ends, and a cool dry place to store samples before delivery or freezing.
AHI suggests that farmers begin the process by labeling the sample bottle, using a marker to clearly label details of the sample. The details should include the date, the cow’s tag number, and the quarter sampled. During milking is probably when the vast majority of samples are taken, and if this is the case, it is important to change gloves before taking the sample.
The sample-taking process involves cleaning the teats with running water and disinfectant/cleaning solution, drying the teat or teats with a paper towel, disinfecting (for a minimum of 10 seconds) the farthest teats first if sampling more than one teat, checking the cotton ball or wipe, removing the cap (avoiding touching the inside surface of the cap or bottle), squeezing the first couple of squirts of milk onto the ground to remove any contaminants that might be just inside the opening of the teat, holding the bottle at an angle (to avoid anything falling into it) at least 3-4cm from the end of the teat, and squirting 2-4ml of milk into the bottle.
Once the sample has been taken and the results are returned, farmers should discuss these results with their vet to determine which antibiotics should be used to treat further mastitis cases for the year. Ensuring that the correct antibiotics are used will help to prevent the infection from spreading and ensure that cows recover quickly.
In conclusion, obtaining a sterile milk sample is crucial for farmers to identify the bacteria causing mastitis on their farms. By following the advice provided by AHI, farmers can ensure that they take a sterile sample that can be correctly analyzed, allowing for the correct treatment to be given to cows and ensuring a speedy recovery.