When your farm is running smoothly and your herd of dairy goats is healthy, there is a tremendous feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that comes with every shipment of milk that leaves your farm. Knowing that you've done your best to produce quality milk that will be processed and shipped across the country and even the world creates a sense of pride that few others will experience.
However, when you are struggling to control an outbreak of mastitis in your dairy goats, and/or bacteria counts in the milk are high it can be very discouraging and that feeling of pride can turn to feelings of anxiety and unease. While it is impossible to prevent all cases of mastitis or to never have high bacteria counts, there are a few management practices that can greatly reduce such occurrences.
The first place you should start troubleshooting if you have
a shipment of dairy goats milk with high bacteria is the bulk tank. Here is a small checklist to
If you do not find anything of concern after inspecting the bulk tank the next place to look is the milking system. If the milking system is not cleaned properly or if certain components are in need of repair or replacement, bacteria can grow in the pipelines or milking units during the time between milkings, which will cause contamination of the milk during milking, and possibly also contamination of your dairy goats. Here are some things to look for:
If you are able to rule out contamination during storage and during milking then unfortunately you may have a mastitis problem in one or more dairy goats. The two most common ways to test for mastitis are to test the conductivity of the milk and to test the level of somatic cells (SC) in the milk. Testing the levels of somatic cells however may not be very accurate during later stages of lactation because dairy goats are always producing SC so during later stages of lactation the concentration of SCs per litre of milk will be quite high, even in healthy dairy goats.
If your testing reveals that mastitis is the cause of the high bacteria counts in the milk it is important to treat the goat promptly. It is usually recommended to take a sample to your vet for bacterial culturing in order to determine whether it is a contagious type of mastitis or an environment type. Contagious types are easily transmitted during milking while environmental types are a result of inadequate bedding. The easiest way to prevent environmental types is to keep your goats well bedded. Environment types take a more management to control below is a list of management practices that can help reduce the occurrence and spread of contagious mastitis:
Dr. Paula Menzies, a professor in ruminant health management at the Ontario Veterinary College, wrote the following guide in collaboration with Ph.D candidate Colleen Fitzpatrick at the University of Saskatchewan, and Dr. Jocelyn Jansen, Phil Wilman, and Mike Foran from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). We have found it to be very helpful and extremely informative. It has many pictures throughout, to help you identify problems in your milking goats udders.
To order your copy of the Udder Health Manual, please contact Ontario Goat at 1-866-311-6422 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The price for the manual is $45 ($15 for licenced Ontario dairy goat producers). The price includes shipping within Ontario.
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reduce the spread of mastitis and milk contamination
wipe those teats! much bacteria is carried right on the tips and can be easily wiped away, reducing contamination of milk and the spread of bacteria.
Less wastage of iodine when you have a dipper like this. The iodine will kill any bacteria that would like to harbour in your goat's teats.