Hello, I am not sure how many folks on here use their Dexter cows for milking. But that is our main focus. We started our herd with one heifer and a 6 year old cow. Abigail who is now 3.5 was having mastitis issues. We treated and then it came back in 2 weeks. Concerned, I sent her milk off to be tested while trying another treatment given to me by our vet. Well, news was bad. He said she had 2 varieties of staph. Both hard to treat and one chronic, so it will lay dormant in her system but never go away and she will ALWAYS have flare up every year. He said she has had this for a long time, before we purchased her. She was a carrier. He says to cull her. I can't sell her as a milk cow anymore. He said you could drink the milk, pasteurized, which is not what we want. But the bigger issue is her infecting our other heifers and cow when it flares back up. So we are drying her up to prevent spreading. She will have her calf next year, hoping for a heifer, and then we have to remove her. I don't know if I can eat her. She was to be our family milk cow for the long haul. All that work we put into her. Gone! She is sweet, docile, loving, and comes by name. I guess I need to grow up and realize this is also a business. I can't risk my other cows health. I would like to know if others have dealt with this or have any advise. I knew we would be eating our steer, but this knocked my feet right out from underneath me. Sorry for being so wordy, didn't know where else to let it out. -Dani
I am so sorry to hear your situation. I know all of us who have lost a cow understand what you are going through. Many become pets and we love them. I have never dealt with this but it sounds like you are doing the right thing. It can't be fixed and You don't want to risk spreading this to the rest of your herd. Again, I am so sorry.
Post by kansasdexters on Jul 14, 2012 8:30:27 GMT -5
I would not cull a valuable animal based on the results of one test report. I recommend that you first repeat the test to confirm the findings and do your homework on the type of test that was done initially so that you will know what type of test needs to be done to confirm the results.
Cows infected with Staph aureus produce specific antibodies against the organism that can be detected using the appropriate test. Originally, the Pro-Staph test, was marketed in the United States for this purpose. Now the SAATK test, is available in some locations. Both of these tests detect the presence of antibodies against Staph aureus in the milk. The presence of these antibodies suggests that the cow has or has had a Staph aureus infection. These tests are a tool to screen cattle for Staph infections and cows testing positive should then be sampled and cultured to verify infection status.
The gold standard for determining udder infection status is milk culturing. Finding mastitis pathogens in milk is a clear indication of potential problems, especially with certain bacterial species. However isolating no pathogens from clinical samples is very common and can be rather confusing.
The Hy-Mast test, from Pharmacia, is used onsite to test milk samples for presence of mastitis pathogens. This test takes approximately 8-12 hours and it distinguishes between gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. These two bacterial groups respond differently to antibiotic therapies, so it's important to know which bacterial group is present.
More traditional milk sampling and culture programs, while not rapid cow-side tests, are still used for determining specific mastitis pathogens. Milk culturing done by a certified lab is still the best and most reliable mastitis diagnostic tool. The essential for success is a clean milk sample that is properly stored and handled from the cow to the laboratory. Failure in any of these areas can lead to meaningless or misleading information.
Here is a useful link to help you understand the different pathogens that can cause mastitis:
I have found that veterinarians are not experts at microbiology. They don't have the laboratory experience and they don't have much indepth knowledge about the types of tests used (or that can be used). I have found that many people don't know how to properly collect a sample (especially the first time they do it) and they contaminate it. When sampling for milk, everything has to be clean, dry, and disinfected -- your hands, the udder, the teats. The milk has to be carefully collected, properly stored, and rapidly transported to the lab. Any failure in any step of the process can potentially compromise the sample.
Before passing judgement on your cow, please take the time to confirm the diagnosis. You may even want to use another vet in order to get a second opinion on treatment options for the cow.
We use the CMT (California Mastitis Test) to check for elevated somatic cell count (an indicator of subclinical mastitis). It is a quick and easy test that is done at milking time. The test kit costs about $25 and there is enough reagent to do about 360 tests, so it's a very economical test to utilize in your routine care of a milk cow.
Update. I talked with a livestock vet on the phone yesterday. Her advise was a bit different than I got from the vet I normally use. She said that she may not have this for life. If this is the first year than she has a chance. She told me her best chance of clearing up completely is to treat her with a dry cow treatment, that it can not really be knocked out completely while she is in lactating. But, to treat her when she flares up to keep it under control. She also said there is no real worry about her heifer nursing and passing it on. And that we can drink the milk raw if our test indicates a low somatic cell count, which it is. If we were a large dairy operation and used machines instead of milking by hand we would need to cull her. But in our case, with hand milking, her being the only milking cow, it only being in one quarter and treating it right away, we could completely kill this thing when she dries up if we use dry cow treatment. I don't know how she got this. But from what I know it was before we purchased her. She carried it but didn't show until her second lactation. I am also going to culture her milk again using a different large animal vet nearby. There is hope for my sweet Abby Gabby (Abigail). Only the future knows. Day by day for now. -Dani
Post by kansasdexters on Jul 15, 2012 12:34:06 GMT -5
Please note that Staph. aureus is a ubiquitous organism, and the largest reservoir of enterotoxin producing staphylococci is man. Humans are an important source of Staph. aureus so the presence of staphylococci in cooked or processed foods can serve to indicate poor hygiene amongst food handlers. Animals may also act as a source of Staph. aureus, typically raw milk and raw meat (particularly pork) may be contaminated with the organism.
The spread and proliferation of staph really depends on hygiene practiced in the barn and in the management practices. Cows that are kept clean, dry, free from injuries, and in clean facilities will have less exposure and thus fewer chances of developing staph infections.
If a cow has mastitis and receives proper treatment, she can recover and be just fine for her intended use. It is essential to consistently follow good hygiene practices when milking an animal. Unclean human hands can easily spread staph infection and so can contact with anything that they touch.
Staph, e coli, and other forms of nasty bacteria are on our skin all the time. Just because it is there does not mean you will become sick. I understand your concern, which is why I went to a livestock expert. And I am also going to test her again to be certain the results were not contaminated. Also, I did my research and plan to vaccinate both of my heifers for this particular form of staph. They will not be ruined. You should also know that just because you have staph does not necessarily mean you will have it for life. Your immune system can fight it off, especially with good care. This is her first time, which would make it acute, according to livestock vet, not chronic. I do want to thank every one for their input. -Dani
Last Edit: Jul 16, 2012 12:16:13 GMT -5 by danijoe
I really hope you can save her, it's amazing how wrapped up in these cattle we become. I've put off getting rid of one of my cows for years, we just think so much of her. Now, I'm fighting to save what is probably her last calf, funny how this stuff goes around.