- Cost of labour
- Discarded milk
- Loss of heifer/cow (death)
- Lowered milk quality payments
- Decreased milk production
- Cost of treatment.
Time – The time taken dealing with mastitis limits the time available to do other things properly.
The period of peak incidence of mastitis cases is also when farmers are dealing with calving cows, collecting calves, metabolic disease, post calving illness and diseases of the reproductive tract that can impact on the cows’ production as well as their ability to get back in calf.
Stress – With all that is going on, spring is a stressful time of the year anyway. Dealing with mastitis at this
Time, or an escalating Somatic Cell Count (SCC) count later in the year, can add further stress.
Staff – Dealing with a significant mastitis problem is difficult for staff, impacting on job satisfaction and adding pressure to the job. It is well documented that there is a very high turnover of staff on New Zealand dairy farms. It is likely that animal health issues such as mastitis play a part in this.
Animal welfare – The vast majority of farmers pride themselves on looking after their stock well. Mastitis can be an uncomfortable and often painful condition for cows. Reducing the occurrence of mastitis is undoubtedly in the best interest of the cows.
Calves – As well as limiting time to manage calves well, mastitis in the herd can reduce the quality of milk fed to calves.
Increased exposure to antibiotics (either before they are born or via milk from treated cows) and bacteria can occur.
Adding mastitis milk to colostrum fed calves dilutes it and reduces the ability to store the colostrum for future use.
Milk quality and market access – Dairy farmers are producing a food product. Quality product is important to satisfy the needs of customers with ever increasing expectations. This is reflected in an increased focus on SCC by New Zealand dairy companies of late.
Season length – SCCs increase towards the end of the season with declining production and the spread of contagious bacteria throughout the lactation. This can lead to having to dry off a significant proportion of the herd earlier than necessary.
Reduction of management options – Options such as once a day milking (in a feed pinch, for ease of management or to maintain cow condition) can be challenging in herds with a highcow condition) can be challenging in herds with a high SCC as this increases SCC further.