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Canadian Bovine Mastitis Research Network

All about Mastitis  I  Milk Quality

An Unbeatable Game Plan  I  The Choice of Tactics  I  Milk Quality Premium  I  Power Play

Udder Health Provincial Strategy

A Winning Game Plan!

The udder health provincial strategy is designed to focus on a single objective: improve udder health and milk quality at the farm through concerted action.
Developed over the last few months, this strategy is the result of a joint action between the Association des médecins vétérinaires praticiens du Québec (AMVPQ), the Faculté de médecine vétérinaire (FMV), Valactaand the Canadian Bovine Mastitis Research Network (CBMRN). It will be implemented this fall by response teams relying on the contribution of every player to achieve the ultimate goal.
The goal
Improve udder health and milk quality at the farm.
The process
Concerted action from veterinary practitioners, stakeholders and producers who pool their expertise and response towards a common goal.
The tactics used
A three-part training plan: practitioners, stakeholders, producers;
The CBMRN’s TACTIC Udder Health Veterinary Kit;
The on-line toolbox available on the CBMRN Web site.
The strategy is based on a convergence of varied tactics designed to improve udder health and milk quality. For producers, these tactics will yield practical accessible means to adapt their farm management practices, and thereby enjoy the financial benefits resulting from a reduction in the incidence of mastitis and an improvement in the quality of their milk. The producer will have the option of selecting those tactics which suit him best.
In plain language, the provincial strategy will be there to support the efforts of producers in the fight against mastitis. Will you be on the team that will set this wide-spread offense in motion at the service of the Quebec dairy production?
An Unbeatable Game Plan
Let’s begin by introducing the star players of the response team.
Playing Center
Directing the offense, there is the veterinarian. In numerous studies conducted around the world, producers have clearly designated the veterinarian as their main source of information and advice on matters of udder health. The veterinarian plays a key role on the team because of his ability to:
  • analyze the mammary health status of a herd;
  • diagnose mastitis;
  • prescribe appropriate treatment and corrective action.
He will also be able to guide the producer and his partners (the various people involved at the farm) in order to combine their expertise and score additional points in udder health. Go Team Go!
The Wingers
On-farm stakeholders, including the milk quality technician, the milk recording advisor, the feed advisor and the genetics advisor, are your wingers. They take over from the veterinarian in clearly defined areas. Their respective recommendations can contribute to:
  • decrease the infection pressure by reducing environmental contamination factors through cleanliness and stocking density;
  • limit the transmission of pathogens and teat abnormalities during milking by checking the equipment and procedures;
  • maximize the cows’ resistance to infection through adapted feeding and by providing a healthy, stress-free and comfortable environment;
  • build the genetic resistance of breeding stock by selecting for improved somatic cell count and mammary system conformation.
The Coach
The producer remains the leader of the game when it comes to choosing and implementing tactics on a daily basis. His motivation to perform and achieve high goals in udder health is crucial to the success of the concerted strategy. His role also includes the flow of information within the response team through follow-up and record keeping. The producer is also the one who is in the best position to measure gains in the field of play and to decide on what adjustments are required, if any.
Illustrated fact sheets
When mammary health problems push forward, you have to play hard-nosed defence. Going back to the basics often is the right move to regain control of the game.
A series of practical fact sheets illustrated in color presents basic techniques:
  • Milk sample collection technique for bacterial testing;
  • Performing a CMT (California MastitisTest);
  • Administration technique of intramammary treatment;
  • Injection technique for dairy cattle;
  • Cow cleanliness assessment;
  • Step-by-step milking procedure;
  • Teat abnormalities;
  • Teat condition evaluation;
  • Observation of mammary system conformation.
 These fact sheets are:
  • A reminder and an on-farm quick reference tool;
  • A useful guide for training personnel;
  • Instructional material, ready for reproduction, written by experts for teachers.
Calculation tools
Two new tools for improving farm management can be downloaded or printed:
1. The mastitis cost calculator (developed in the Netherlands and adapted for Canada):
  • User friendly and fast;
  • Offers a detailed presentation of costs;
  • Useful for simulations and for raising awareness.
2. The computerized teat condition calculator (developed by the CBMRN):
  • Performs the assessment of the most common abnormalities: hyperkeratosis, congestion, lesions;
  • Allows for the compilation of results for individual cows and for the entire herd;
  • Provides for complete analysis per quarter, per cow and per abnormality type;
  • Complies with NMC standards (National Mastitis Council).
The Choice of Tactics
Whether it is about playing offense or defence, employing collective or targeted tactics, the provincial strategy is based on a series of new tools that are or will eventually be made available to the respective players. The goal is to give access to everyone interested in udder health to such tools and have these become provincial references in veterinary practice, advisory services and teaching, and more importantly, have them become known in all Quebec dairy farms.
It’s Time to Face Off… against Mastitis
Already well stocked with recent content on mastitis, the CBMRN Web site now offers original video material and new calculation modules designed to figure out the cost of mastitis on the farm. This new on-line material is effective to acquire sound practices, assess certain herd conditions or to fine tune udder health management quickly and with little effort.
Get the Kit… Get after Mastitis!
As the starting center for the provincial strategy, the veterinarian can now rely on a new tool in his arsenal to take mastitis out of the game. The TACTIC Udder Health Veterinary Kit was designed by the CBMRN in cooperation with several partners. It offers a structured approach intended to standardize the support provided to dairy producers and promote joint action with other on-farm stakeholders. Based on a national udder health program created in the Netherlands, this initiative is a first in Canada. Veterinary practitioners will receive their kit as part of a special training which will soon be deployed in Quebec.
The CBMRN’s TACTIC Udder Health Veterinary Kit is composed of a binder and a USB flash drive. It proposes a five-point process (infection pressure, milking, herd udder health assessment, resistance and transition period, treatment) to properly follow up on the udder health of a herd. It contains a lot of exclusive material:
- Questionnaires and forms to ensure a cohesive process and maintain producer motivation;
- Management tools for on-farm implementation;
- Fact sheets ready for reproduction and distribution;
- A producer group meeting organization guide;
- Visual material to support training (electronic slide shows, videos);
- Practical links;
- New items.
Training Camp… to Get Ready to Fight against Mastitis!
A provincial committee composed of representatives from major organizations of Quebec’s dairy sector has been mandated to promote overall herd health. Already involved in creating regional training sessions for dairy producers (in breeding and feeding), this committee has opted to prioritize udder health training over the next year. Special training components have been planned for veterinary practitioners, for on-farm stakeholders and for producers. Each component is adapted to the needs of each category of players, but will still converge on the concerted strategy in order to get the whole team to go on offense and take on mastitis right in the farms of the province.
Milk Quality Premium: A Significant Incentive
In the wake of udder health improvement initiatives, dairy producers will meet on November 12 as part of a special general assembly of the Fédération des producteurs de lait du Québec (FPLQ) convened to vote on the implementation of a quality premium. This initiative results from a resolution adopted at the annual general assembly held on April 14 and 15 of this year requesting that the FPLQ design a quality premium program. This project, which is entirely funded by the producers’ contributions, directly out of the pool fund, is intended to reward the efforts invested in milk quality at the farm, which is closely related to udder health.
Power Play
Implementing a provincial strategy on udder health that will hit hard requires strong participation from dairy producers and interested stakeholders. The game will not be won easily because mastitis is a tough opponent. But with a winning game plan, a strong team and a good strategy, victory can be achieved.

A Sound Preparation Based on Comprehensive Training

Part 1: Training of veterinary practitioners in bovine medicine
During the month of November 2009, the continuing education department of the Faculté de médecine vétérinaire of Université de Montréal will hold three regional sessions in Drummondville, Saint-Hyacinthe and Lévis. The training content is designed to serve as an update of the knowledge base of practitioners about mastitis (herd analysis and follow-up, diagnostic methods, treatments, etc.). The presentation and distribution of the CBMRN’s TACTIC Udder Health Veterinary Kit is also on the agenda.

Part 2: Training of on-farm stakeholders
At the end of fall 2009, all stakeholders involved one way or another in udder health and milk quality will be invited to attend a provincial training session. This program is designed to foster and support their participation to the zootechnic aspects of the fight against mastitis by facilitating the transfer of state-of-the-art information and practical tools.
Part 3: Training of dairy producers
As soon as winter 2010, training veterinary practitioners from the AMVPQ and Valacta advisors will conduct an extensive regional training tour intended for dairy producers. The sessions will focus on the economic impact of mastitis and on how to get a global picture of the udder health status of dairy herds. Preventive recommendations and practical management tools will be presented to help producers deal with the numerous risk factors facing dairy herds.

This article was published in Le producteur de lait québécois in November 2009.
Written by Hélène Poirier, transfer project manager, CBMRN, Julie Baillargeon, agronomist, transfer agent, CBMRN, Martine Labonté, assistant director, economic research, FPLQ and Jérôme Carrier, consulting veterinarian, AMVPQ.

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