Fly populations are increasing and herd owners should take steps to cut the risk of summer mastitis in autumn calving cows and replacement heifers.

Avoid grazing near heavily wooded areas, or in paddocks close to stagnant water courses, as they are a haven for fly activity. Grazing swards that have headed out also attract flies.

Herd checks

Keep a close eye on animals when doing daily herd checks, paying attention to cow’s udders in the process.

Be on the lookout for early signs of mastitis, such as cows isolating themselves, cows that are reluctant to rise from a lying position when approached and cows exhibiting stiffness when walking.

Prevention options

Methods to reduce the risk of summer mastitis include fly repellent pour-ons. Depending on the product, multiple applications may be required.

Garlic lick buckets are also an option, along with fly repellent ear tags. Stockholm tar can be used, but needs applied every four or five days.

Clipping excess hair from a cow’s tail will also improve hygiene and reduce soiling around the hindquarter, attracting less flies.

Delaying weaning is another option to get cows past the period of highest risk. More often than not, the best course of prevention is a combination of these options.