Welcome to the Monthly Mastitis Minute
View this email in your browser


Choosing the Right Bedding Type to Reduce Environmental Mastitis

Bacterial exposure at the teat end is a primary source of exposure to potential mastitis pathogens. Reducing this exposure is an important aspect of controlling environmental mastitis. It is especially important reduce exposure to Gram negative bacteria (such as coliforms) because these bacteria often result in increased clinical cases of mastitis even if the SCC of the herd is low. Since teats become contaminated with environmental bacteria through contact, choosing the right type of bedding for your herd is critical. Teats may be in direct contact with bedding materials for 12 to 14 hours per day, making bedding a primary reservoir for environmental pathogens. 

When a cow lies down, her udder and teats come into contact with whatever she is lying on. The type of bedding and how that bedding is kept clean are critical issues for control. The ideal bedding for limiting environmental mastitis is a clean inorganic material. If kept clean, sand allows urine to drain down away from the cow, and is less likely to have bacteria growing in it than an organic bedding. However, sand can be expensive and it is more difficult to eliminate the feces-spoiled waste, compared with organic forms.

The primary forms of organic beddings used today are sawdust and straw. In addition to straw, other types of plant materials from wastage of crop harvesting have been used and some are still used (such as corn cobs). Organic beddings soak up fluids from urine, but also are good media for bacterial growth. Feces-spoiled sawdust or straw can be a major source of environmental pathogens for causing mastitis. In addition, green sawdust from uncured wood can harbor some types of Klebsiella bacteria, even before it becomes soiled with feces.

Large amounts of bedding have also been obtained from mechanical liquid-solid separation of manure on some farms in the West. Yet the Midwestern climate is not as arid and the risk of increased mastitis increases in bedding that contains more moisture. Research data on the use of manure solids as bedding material for dairy cows, milk quality on farms using solids, the chemical and bacteriological characteristics of solids, and methods of obtaining solids for bedding in the Midwest are still underway. Though, it appears that excellent cow preparation at milking time, sanitation of milking equipment, cow hygiene, adequate dry cow housing, very low bedding moisture, and bedding/stall management are critical in maintaining excellent udder health when using recycled manure solids for bedding and making it work. These practices are important when using any type of bedding and even more so with recycled manure solids.

Research: Bedding Types and Milk Quality

Research at the University of Wisconsin indicated that large Wisconsin dairy farms that used inorganic bedding had greater productivity and better milk quality compared with herds using other bedding types.

Fresh and recycled sand and forestry byproducts (such as sawdust and wood shavings) are the most common types of bedding materials used on large Wisconsin dairy farms, but a small number of the largest herds use recycled manure products. As compared with organic bedding materials, use of sand bedding has been associated with reduced exposure to bacteria. Recycling bedding on-farm may provide economic opportunities for dairy producers. However, some recycled bedding materials (such as manure and recycled sand) harbor greater number of bacteria. The greater numbers of bacteria have been associated with increased numbers of bacteria on teats of cows exposed to these materials. 

Table: Results of microbiological analysis of milk samples obtained from enrolled quarters (n = 434) with SCC >200,000 cells/mL or first cases of clinical mastitis (CM) in a study of first-lactation Holsteins (n = 109) housed on 4 different beddings from January 1, 2013, to December 17, 2013 (Rowbotham and Ruegg, 2016). 

Download Journal Articles

Association of bedding types with management practices and indicators of milk quality on larger Wisconsin dairy farms

R.F. Rowbotham, P.L. Ruegg, Department of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Identifies associations of bedding type and selected management practices with bulk milk quality and productivity of larger Wisconsin dairy farms.

Associations of selected bedding types with incidence rates of subclinical and clinical mastitis in primiparous Holstein dairy cows

R.F. Rowbotham, P.L. Ruegg, Department of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Determines the association of exposure to selected bedding types with incidence of subclinical and clinical mastitis in Holstein dairy cows housed in identical pens at a single facility.

For more information

Copyright © 2016 UW Milk Quality, All rights reserved.

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
University of Wisconsin-Madison · 1675 Observatory Dr · Madison, WI 53706 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp