Dairy farmers are all too familiar with the external signs of mastitis – from swollen quarters to excessive heat and hardening of the udder wall.
At the 2016 Canadian Dairy XPO, Alltech Canada’s Dr. Roger Scaletti performed a tissue analysis of an udder to give producers an inside look at where milk comes from and what happens when mastitis develops.
So what’s happening inside that mastitis-riddled swollen quarter that has taken your cow out of production?
“When you open it up, you may find something that looks like cottage cheese in there,” says Scaletti. “That’s actually an accumulation of white blood cells that are there to fight the infection.”
When producers milk the infected quarter they see the white blood cells in the form of clots or flakes in the milk.
“You might find some fluid from the swelling, but it’s all the body’s immune response to inflammation. Heat is a tactic to make the environment unpleasant for bacterial growth,” notes Scaletti.