Mastitis is the inflammation of the mammary gland and/or udder tissue due to bacteria or injury and can be a major economic loss to farms. When the udder becomes infected the Somatic Cell Count (SCC) increases significantly and this rise can be rapid.

When mastitis infections occur, if it is a clinical case the milking operator will identify changes to the udder and/or the milk, e.g. swelling and hardening of the udder and clots in the milk. There will be a major increase in SCC in cows with clinical mastitis. If it is a subclinical case, the milker will not detect any change in the udder or milk but SCC will have increased. It is widely accepted that individual cow SCC greater than 150,000 cells/ml or individual heifer SCC greater than 150,000 cells/ml indicates presence of infection.

What is the presence of mastitis costing on your farm?

Example cost calculation of milk quality (SCC) penalty/bonus payment

Maximum milk price (SCC ˂200,000cells/ml) =32p

Milk price (SCC 300,000-400,000cells/ml) =30p (2p penalty)

Milk volume = 8000 l x 100 cows (x 2p penalty) = £16,000


The cost of the milk quality penalty/bonus payment (lost profit) related to a SCC ˂200,000 versus 300,000-400,000 cells/ml, for a 100 cow herd averaging 8000 l/cow is an estimated £16,000. The costs associated with an increased SCC can be a major economical loss to your farm. Here at Roadhead we only use quality raw ingredients in our blends (e.g. Wheat, Maize, Barley, Hipro Soya, Beet Pulp) to minimise negative energy balance loss. In return the cow has an increased ability to resist against infection, making your farm more profitable.

The illness is in most respects a very complex disease, affected by a variety of factors. Practices such as close attention to milking hygiene, good housing management, the culling of chronically- infected cows and effective nutrition to promote good cow health are essential to helping to control herd mastitis levels. Negative energy balance has a major impact on the immune response and on the animal’s ability to resist against infection. In terms of udder health vitamin E and Selenium are very important for influencing the cow’s immune function, enabling the cow to deal efficiently with invading bacteria.

Speak to one of our representatives to discuss any issues or queries you may have. We can have a look at your diet and adjust the mineral spec to help with cell counts and reduce mastitis. The extra savings are substantial and with our help we can help you achieve this. Adequate vitamin and mineral levels make for adequate immune function.

At Roadhead we specify the level of minerals in the blend to meet individual requirements.


Mark O’Sullivan