One of the main bacteria we see causing mastitis all year round and especially during late dry-cow period and early spring is Strep. uberis mastitis.  These bacteria live all over your farm due to the faecal, salivary and nasal contamination of cows that are shedding the bacteria from their rumen, genitalia, mouth and skin.  Strep. uberis is, and always will be, present on your farm premises and can quite easily gain entrance to a cow’s udder from environmental contamination.  Once there it sets up a clinical infection which results in a loss of money for you in many ways including decreased milk production, money spent on antibiotic therapy and an increase in bulk tank somatic cell counts.  For these reasons it is important to understand the bacteria, the type of mastitis it causes, and the many good ways to prevent it from being a problem in your herd. 


Strep. uberis mastitis most commonly occurs in older cows late in the dry period and early in lactation.  It is most prevalent in cows that were not dry cow treated with a product with a long enough action to get the cow through the dry period.  When selecting dry cow therapy it is important to protect the cow for as long as possible to prevent these early lactation Strep. uberis infections.  Teatseal is also an excellent way to prevent contamination of the udder with these bacteria especially when used in combination with dry cow antibiotics.  Remember, these bacteria live all over your farm so the aim is to keep them out of the cow’s udder.


Other causes of Strep. uberis mastitis are heavy contamination of the teats and udder with water, mud and faecal matter at any stage during lactation.  The cleaner the cow’s udder, the less likely she is to develop Strep. uberis mastitis (as well as many other types of mastitis).  Interestingly, one of the leading causes of Strep. uberis mastitis during lactation is a lack of pre-preparation and stimulation of the cow’s udder before milking.  This entails cleaning the teats before putting on the cups.  Although this may be difficult and/or impossible in your set-up it does offer the following advantages.  Firstly - you are applying the cups to a clean udder so the chances of contamination are greatly reduced.  Secondly - stimulating the udder before milking results in faster, and better, milk let-down.  This makes for much more even milk out, and decreased milking time, which greatly reduces the risk of Strep. uberis mastitis.  This is just something to consider, especially for farms that experience a high rate of this mastitis.


Strep. uberis mastitis usually results in non-specific signs of mastitis which include swelling, oedema and firmness of the udder with clots or flakes in the milk.  The milk also appears more watery than normal.  The best, and easiest, way to determine if you are dealing with Strep. uberis is to submit milk samples to your veterinarian for culture.  This procedure is cheap and easy, and gives results back as quickly as 24 hours.


As for therapy, Strep. uberis mastitis should respond to all the conventional lactating cow therapies including Lactapen, Clavulox, Orbenin LA, Mastalone, Tylo 200, Penethaject etc.  We recommend starting therapy with a simple product such as Lactapen or Clavulox, and saving the more expensive products for non-responsive and recurrent infections.  It has also been shown that using a shot of anti-inflammatory (Ketofen, Metacam) during treatment results in better cure rates and lower somatic cell counts.  Teat spraying may help with control of infections but it is less important when dealing with Strep. uberis cases.


Please consider submitting as many milk samples as possible during the early and late times of lactation, having a trained veterinarian do an analysis of your milking machinery and procedure, and discussing mastitis options with your veterinarian to reduce your clinical rates, reduce your bulk tank somatic cell count, increase your milk production and save you money!