Selection factors to consider for mastitis tubes

Emily Wilmes, University of Minnesota Extension

Understand the different components of mastitis tubes and their labeling

Understanding the different components of mastitis tubes and their labeling can help you select the correct treatment for your infected cows. A good first step is culturing the milk of infected cows so you know which pathogens you are treating. As always, you should consult with your veterinarian before administering any medication to your animals.

Here are the selection factors you should consider:



1. Antibiotic. The antibiotic is the actual drug that the mastitis tube contains. Some examples of antibiotics are amoxicillin, ampicillin, and penicillin. Knowing the drug in your mastitis tube is helpful, as some herds can become immune or resistant to certain drugs over time.

2. Bactericidal vs. Bacteriostatic treatment. These two terms refer to what the antibiotic does to the bacteria/pathogen. Bactericidal treatments will kill the bacteria; bacteriostatic treatments will slow the bacteria’s growth or reproduction. The majority of mastitis tubes on the market are bactericidal.

3. Spectrum. The spectrum of the tube indicates the range of bacteria an antibiotic will treat. Broad spectrum tubes will treat a wider range than narrow spectrum tubes; however, narrow spectrum mastitis tubes may be more effective against specific pathogens—especially if you know what pathogens you are treating as a result of culturing milk samples.

4. Dosage. The dosage tells you the size and frequency of the antibiotic that should be administered to the cow. The units of size are expressed as an entire tube. Frequency can vary from two tubes in 12 hours to one tube every 24 hours for 8 days, and everywhere in between.

5. Milk and Slaughter Withholding Times. The withholding time for milk and slaughter are important to pay attention to. They indicate how long (after the last treatment) the antibiotic will remain present in the cow’s body. Milk or meat found to contain antibiotic residues will be rejected and not used for food products.



6. Product Indications. The product indications will give you more information about what the mastitis tube is marketed to do. Typically, it will list some common pathogens it treats, type of mastitis it best treats (subclinical/clinical), and sometimes if it treats strains of bacteria resistant to other antibiotics.

Summer can be a tough time to manage mastitis, but if you take preventative precautions and treat confirmed cases properly, it doesn’t have to be a struggle.

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