Mastitis is most commonly found in lactating (milking) animals.
In some cases, though, dry cows (not in milk) and heifers (not having been in milk before) can get mastitis.
Common causes of mastitis in non-lactating animals include:
- Laying in wet locations (lack of bedding or saturated bedding) or living in wet conditions (rainy season, for example) where the teat ends become moist, loosening the teat plugs, allowing bacteria to enter.
- In heifers, the problem of other animals sucking on the teats of a heifer can remove the teat plugs.
- In dry cows, a lingering sub-clinical or clinical (showing signs) infection in the udder can
In most cases, dry cow or heifer mastitis is treated similar to lactating cow mastitis, by infusing the affected quarter with a mastitis tube (use a lactating cow treatment unless then animal is far-out from calving, like over 60 days away from calving).
Sometimes mastitis happens, despite all we do for prevention, so give yourself a break and don’t feel bad, these things happen.
There are some ways to help avoid this type of mastitis:
Stall type: Freestalls or a similar type of cow bed that promotes cleanliness will significantly lower the bacteria count on the udder of the animal.
Bedding: Keep bedding as dry and clean as possible. Sand bedding “breeds” the least amount of bacteria, but is not practical for many situations. The most common bedding, shavings and/or straw, are both great as long as they’re kept dry. If possible, try to sanitize the stalls on occasion – for example, when our cows are on summer pasture, we thoroughly scrape out each freestall down to the dirt, then let the sun dry the stalls and then we coat the ground with lime or D.E. before refilling with fresh bedding.
Anti-sucking: Monitor young animals in groups to make sure they are not sucking on each other. If they are, either separate or change the feeding style (like, from a bottle to a bucket or from a bottle to a bucket with nipple-feeder).
Click to Watch a Video on Treating a Dry Cow for Mastitis: