Milk producers looking to minimise mastitis problems this winter must counter the hygiene threat from damp straw bedding.
Straw bedding improves cow comfort, but if damp, also
provides the perfect environment for harmful bugs to thrive.
“Plenty of straw has still been baled damp this year - potentially promoting a favourable environment for the multiplication of harmful mastitis-causing bacteria such as Strep. uberis and E.coli,” points out Dr Alan Reeve from C&H Nutrition.
“Mastitis caused by environmental bacteria is frequently associated with damp and dirty bedding, as well as inadequate ventilation in the cow accommodation,” he says.
“Traditional cattle bedding materials in the UK such as straw, sawdust or waste paper improve comfort levels for cows, but research has shown that they also create the perfect warm, moist conditions for harmful bugs to thrive. In addition, damp bedding also aids the movement of faeces onto the udder and this promotes a favourable environment for mastitis bacteria.”
However, Dr Reeve says cow health and comfort can be significantly improved by using a particularly absorbent bedding conditioner with added disinfectant at housing. And he strongly advocates the use of bespoke bedding conditioner products over cheaper alternatives such as lime.
“Lime is often used to absorb moisture in cubicles and although as an alkali it does have some bacterial kill properties, it is also an irritant to udders,” he points out.
“On the other hand, specialist bedding conditioner products are much gentler on the udder. Dri Li Plus, in particular, has independent data showing significant moisture absorbency potential and, most importantly, proven bacterial kill rates. And the faster bacteria like E.coli and S. uberis are knocked out in the housed environment, the more likely your cubicle management regime will pay off in terms of lower somatic cell counts and healthier, more comfortable cows,” he says.
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