Dr Zoe Vogels BVSc, MANZCVS
Heifers are most susceptible to clinical mastitis and high cell counts within the first few weeks of calving. This is due to opening of the teat ends just prior to calving that allows bacteria, such as Strep uberis, to enter the udder. While incidence rates vary depending on seasonal conditions and calving management, clinical mastitis in maiden heifers is a significant issue in many herds – with 10% or more of heifers affected.
In recent years several clinical trials and much practical experience have shown considerable benefits in using Teatseal® to reduce the incidence of this problem. Teatseal® is a non-antibiotic intramammary treatment that provides a plug in the end of the teat. This plug acts as a physical barrier against the entry of bacteria at calving time. With administration of Teatseal® 4–6 weeks prior to the planned start of calving, we have seen the numbers of cases of clinical mastitis in heifers in early lactation reduced by 55 % to 85%.
Practical considerations of using Teatseal® in heifers
Teatseal® must be infused gently and in a sterile manner. The last few years has seen us Teatsealing heifers in our hydraulic tipping crush, which has made the process stress free. Heifers are safely tipped over on their side and their legs restrained, allowing safe and easy access to the udder, and optimum cleanliness during the infusion process by one of our experienced veterinarians or technicians.
Teatsealing heifers in the tipper crush can be done at your out paddock or dairy yards, and can be combined with other husbandry procedures you may need to undertake, such as ear tagging or vaccination.
Teatsealing heifers-is it worth it?
YES. The benefits of using Teatseal® will increase as the incidence of heifer mastitis in a herd increases. If you expect that more than 5% of heifers will have clinical mastitis in the first 2–4 weeks after calving or if more than 5% of heifers will drip milk or have severe udder oedema (flag), then Teatsealing heifers is one of the preventative options that should be considered.
If you would like help working out the clinical mastitis rates in your heifers or have any questions about Teatsealing heifers, please contact one our Milk Quality veterinarians to discuss its use in your heifers.