We all know “those” cows, the girls that are older and are repeat offenders with clinical or subclinical mastitis infections. Often the best cure for these cows is to treat them with a bit of Truckercillin and give them a new career at McDonalds. But on a more serious note, culling of these chronically affected cows can be as important as other mastitis control options including antibiotics, post-milking teat disinfection and good hygienic practices.


The guidelines for culling individual cows recommended by Dr John Penry (Countdown Australia) are the following:


  • Had three or more clinical cases in a lactation
  • Were infected in two consecutive lactations (prior to their current lactation) despite dry cow treatment. This includes subclinical infections.
  • Have an individual cow cell count (ICCC) of more than 250,000 over two lactations, despite antibiotic dry cow treatment.


These chronically affected cows can present a risk of new infection for other cows. Their removal from the herd is a good way of stopping the spread to other cows. “Culling infected cows, particularly older, chronically-infected cows, reduces the bacterial challenge to clean cows and can have a significant impact on bulk milk cell counts,” Dr Penry said.


“Although culling is important in mastitis control, it is an expensive option. Culling on the basis of these Countdown triggers allows you to limit the number of cows you cull to those likely to make the most difference,” he said.


Alongside the steps made in culling cows for mastitis, it is essential to take steps to identify and address the drivers of new infections.


“And don’t forget, when culling cows for mastitis, make sure your system guarantees all cows sold for slaughter are residue free,” he said.


Good herd fertility makes this much easier to do so if this is a challenge give us a call and we can help plan for better fertility and better mastitis management.