Heifer mastitis and blind quarters

Have you ever wondered how many heifers have blind quarters or mastitis 1 to 2 months before calving? Well wonder no more!

We’ve tipped and teatsealed a lot of heifers over the years. Sometimes we’ll diagnose heifers with mastitis: swelling and hardness of the gland and a thick, custard-like secretion. While in-house cultures of these secretions have been unrewarding, studies have shown these infections are most likely to be caused by coagulase-negative staph or Strep uberis. These bacteria live on the skin and in the environment and will enter the udder through open teat canals.

On other occasions, we’ll diagnose “blind” quarters. Either the teat will be obviously thickened or, while the tube of teat sealant can be inserted into the canal, nothing can be infused. We suspect that these blind quarters are caused by an infection happening much earlier in a heifer’s life, most likely due to another calf sucking its teats.

How many heifers have mastitis or blind quarters prior to Teatsealing?

We keep a record of everything we find while teatsealing and so we’re able to make pretty good estimates of the prevalence of these two conditions. Over the last few years, from more than 10,000 heifers and 40,000 teats, we’re confident to say that:

  • 0.5% of heifers had mastitis. This varied from farm to farm, from 0–4%
  • 0.1% of teats had mastitis (no heifer had more than one teat with mastitis)
  • 2% of heifers had blind quarters. Farm prevalence ranged from 0–6%
  • 0.5% of teats were blind. Only 15 heifers were blind in more than one quarter

photos of heifer mastitis

What else do you come across while Teatsealing?

As well as mastitis and blind quarters, we come across a variety of teats conditions, such as:

  • Genetic conditions: extra teats, teat fistulas, conjoined teats and those missing a teat opening all together!
  • Things that contribute to mastitis risk, such as dirty teats and open teat ends leaking milk
  • Odds and ends, such as grass seeds, warts and infectious skin lesions

photos of teats with too many or not enough openings

pictures of risk factrs for heifer mastitis

photos showing uncommon conditions of heifer teats before calving

What about the why and how of Teatsealing?

Why do we do it? Administering internal teat sealants to heifers 4–8 weeks prior to calving start date has been shown to reduce the risk of both clinical and subclinical mastitis at calving. We always like positive feedback from farmers, and these two comments about the results of teatsealing heifers are some of our favourites:

“When I saw the price, I was a little sceptical. But now I’m rapt”

“Teatsealing heifers is THE BOMB”

At The Vet Group, we like to make teatsealing a two-person job. One staff member operates the tipping crush and the other infuses the teat sealant. This provides everyone with a safe, efficient and hygienic routine. More information about the process and how to make it easier is in this previous post. Give Farm Services a call on 1800 838 700 for more information or to book in your heifers for teatsealing.

By |2019-11-18T08:11:25+11:00November 18th, 2019|Categories: Farm Services, HeiferWise, MilkWise|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on Heifer mastitis and blind quarters

About the Author: