There is no denying that as an industry we are constantly working towards reduced antibiotic usage and ensuring that we use them as responsibly and appropriately as possible. Mastitis is often an area where antibiotics may be used as part of a treatment protocol but ensuring that this is the right decision can be tricky when the pathogens are unknown. Hannah introduces a new tool to aid decision making on farm.

We have been having some really successful results with an on farm diagnostic kit called Mastdecide. Mastdecide has helped farmers make more appropriate treatment decisions, based on mastitis sample culture. Not only has this seen a reduction in antibiotic usage but has also resulted in significant savings due to a reduction in both medicine costs and dump milk.

Certain pathogens that cause mastitis do not necessarily need an antibiotic as part of the treatment protocol. Some gram negative bacteria (e.g. E. coli) will either self cure or may benefit from supportive treatment with rehydration fluids and NSAIDs. By identifying these cases of mastitis, antibiotics can be safeguarded only for use where truly necessary, thus reducing risk of reduction, costs and waste milk.

Mastdecide works quickly and easily to allow decisions to be made on farm in as little as 8 – 12 hours.

How does Mastdecide work?

Cows presenting with mastitis should be cleanly sampled and a set volume of milk is placed into two different pots. These are then placed in an incubator on farm (best placed in a clean office) and kept at a set temperature for 8 – 12 hours. A simple colour change is then used to indicate whether the sample is most likely gram negative or positive. Following this an appropriate treatment decision can be made, often highlighting that antibiotics are not needed.

So how do I know if Mastdecide could work for me?

Put simply, this isn’t a silver bullet solution to stop using antibiotics but should be seen as a supportive tool to aid on farm decisions. Certain pathogens still require antibiotic treatment and so the first step to deciding whether this could work for you is identifying which major pathogens play a role on your farm. We currently have funding in this area so please ask if you’d like to benefit from this. Ideally mastitis cases should be relatively well controlled in the first instance and so discussions with your vet and reviewing your current performance in this area is key. Once both of these steps have occurred a decision can be made and protocols can be drawn up to ensure your cows get the best possible support.
Pieces of kit such as Mastdecide offer you an innovative and reliable tool to aid your treatment decisions on farm. If you’d like to discuss this in any more detail please speak to your routine vet or call the practice.

Mastdecide - Mastitis Decision Making