Bacterial diseases

Bovine Mastitis - Symptoms and Treatment

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: September 26, 2017
Bovine Mastitis - Symptoms and Treatment

Bovine mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary gland that causes changes in the biochemical composition of milk and the gland tissue.

It is one of the diseases most common in dairy cows, especially Friesian cows, as they are used to producing milk. Mastitis has a negative impact on the quality and the quantity of milk produced, producing losses for the livestock sector. If it is not treated in time, it can become chronic, which means the cow will have to be put down.

Keep reading this informative Animal Wised article to learn all about the symptoms and treatment of bovine mastitis.

You may also be interested in: Mastitis in Rabbits - Causes and Treatment
  1. Causes
  2. Symptoms
  3. Diagnosis
  4. Treatment
  5. Prevention


Mastitis is a multi-factorial disease, since the infection depends on germs, environmental conditions, and the characteristics of the cow. The microorganisms invade the tissue breast causing an inflammation of the gland. We can classify the mastitis by:

Contagious mastitis: originating from microorganisms living in the mammary gland (Streptococcus agalactiae and Staphylococcus aureus mainly). They are transmitted during milking through contaminated milking machinery, the calf or the improper handling by the workers (e.g. the use of the same rags, lack of gloves, etc.). It causes a reduced level of milk.

Environmental mastitis: this is caused by microorganisms (environmental streptococci and coliforms) that live in the environment and are transmitted between period of milking and dry periods when the gland does not produce milk. Their presence determines the level of contamination on the farm.

Bovine Mastitis - Symptoms and Treatment - Causes


According to their symptomatology, mastitis can be classified mainly by:

Subclinical mastitis: this is harder to detect than others. Although no alteration to the milk or the udder are observed, the microbial count and somatic cell is high.

Clinical mastitis: this is an inflammation of the affected udders - the animal feels pain when touched. The milk is altered and blood is sometimes seen, as well as flakes, clots and colorless puss.

Acute mastitis: this is life threatening. Generalized symptoms of this include fever, lower milk production and loss of appetite.

Bovine Mastitis - Symptoms and Treatment - Symptoms


In addition to looking at the symptoms of cow, milk samples are collected and the following tests may be carried out to diagnose mastitis in cows:

  • Somatic cell count: a high number of somatic cells is associated with a reduction in milk production (over 200,000 cells/ml indicates subclinical mastitis).
  • Bacterial culture of milk: microorganisms that cause inflammation of the gland is identified (over 50,000 bacteria/ml can indicate the source of contamination).
  • California Mastitis Test: this indicates the number of somatic cells in the milk that was taken as the sample.
  • Other tests
Bovine Mastitis - Symptoms and Treatment - Diagnosis


You should know that prevention yields better results and is more efficient than the treatment that can be carried out. Treatment depends on the cause of the microorganism and whether it is subclinical or clinical. This can be done using intramammary antimicrobials; the veterinarian will inform you as with regards to the treatment for mastitis in cows.

Bovine Mastitis - Symptoms and Treatment - Treatment


Prevention is key to controlling this disease, and is even more important than treatment. Here is a list of preventive measures for preventing contagious mastitis:

  • Teat disinfection before and after milking.
  • Infected cows milked at the end.
  • Good hygiene during milking.
  • Good milking machine.
  • Drying treatment.
  • Call out a veterinarian.

Preventive measures that must be taken into account to reduce the occurrence of mastitis environmental origin include:

  • Good nutrition and water.
  • Good quality bedding.
  • Good hygiene facilities.
  • Good ventilation.
  • Clean and dry teats.
  • Keeping cows standing after milking.
Bovine Mastitis - Symptoms and Treatment - Prevention

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Bovine Mastitis - Symptoms and Treatment, we recommend you visit our Bacterial diseases category.

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Bovine Mastitis - Symptoms and Treatment