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Winter Dairy Series takes a look at mastitis diagnostics, helping producers spend their money wisely

Updated: Feb. 6, 2020 at 6:40 PM CST
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GAYLORD, Minn. (KEYC) — The University of Minnesota Extension is working to keep local dairy producers in the loop on industry trends and ways to spend their money wisely.

Mastitis is inflammation of the mammary gland or udder tissue and can cause damage to a cow’s milk-secreting tissues, because of that, it’s heavily watched and tested for among dairy herds.

“There’s a lot of confusion about which test to select, which sample to select, how and when to use diagnostic testing, so I’m here to just talk about that and help people get some skill so they know what to do when they need some diagnostics,” said Dr. Erin Royster with the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.

Testing options for dairy farms include mastitis diagnosis, bulk milk testing, mastitis screening and environmental testing.

“I actually tell people I wish they would’ve called me before they think about doing diagnostic testing. If they’re not selecting the right test or it’s not the right time to test, I’d way rather be on the front end and help people save money than be on the back end when they’ve already spent a lot of money and collected the wrong sample or didn’t get good results,” said Royster.

Lines between deciding which test to use can be blurred between different situations.

“If we’re going to do a diagnostic on a cow that has a case of clinical mastitis, we want to know what’s causing it and that’s one test versus we’re screening to see if any certain mastitis pathogens are present, that’s a totally different type of test,” said Royster.

Royster also said that the type of test and how often to test varies based on whether or not it’s a closed herd and if new cattle are introduced or moved around often.

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