CVS Farm launches new dairy cow mastitis campaign - Veterinary Practice
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CVS Farm launches new dairy cow mastitis campaign

Quality improvement project will speed up treatment and reduce the use of unnecessary antibiotics

CVS Farm has launched a new campaign to improve the role of farm vets in dairy cow mastitis decision-making, using culture and sensitivity testing.

The project will improve the use of diagnostic testing to inform appropriate treatment and management decisions and target antibiotic treatment only where indicated. It is hoped that the project will reduce the use of antibiotics, lower their systemic use and help guard against antimicrobial resistance in the future.

Bovine mastitis is an inflammatory response of the udder tissue in the mammary gland caused by physical trauma or microorganism infections. It is considered the most common disease leading to economic loss in the dairy industry due to reduced yield and poor quality of milk.

A herd of cows in the Blackdown Hills, Devon, England countryside

Less than half of mild to moderate clinical mastitis cases are likely to benefit from antibiotic therapy. It is vital to differentiate them from those who will benefit from prompt treatment. A major barrier to achieving this has been the need to send milk samples to a lab, which results in a turnaround time of 48 hours or more and a delay in treatment.

To overcome this barrier, CVS has invested in Mastatest technology in all 15 of its farm clinics. Its farm practices are now able to perform culture and sensitivity testing on milk samples in-house and to have results ready in 20-24 hours.

Emails containing each set of Mastatest results are sent to CVS’ vets and their farmers as soon as they are produced. Treatment plans – predetermined by the vet and farmer when initially setting up the Mastatest machine – can then immediately be actioned. A live online dashboard also allows both parties to view summary data across all samples tested.

CVS’ Farm Vets started to introduce the new dairy cow Mastatest quality improvement project in July 2023. The group has now run nearly 353 clinical samples. From samples tested so far, 16 percent had either E.coli or had no growth at all. It is likely that these cows would go on to self-cure without the need for antibiotics.

To date, S.uberis has been found in 32 percent of samples, requiring antibiotic treatment. In addition, by looking at the results of Mastatest antibiotic sensitivity testing for S.uberis, CVS Farm practices have been able to move away from broad-spectrum category C antibioics to narrow-spectrum category D penicillins to further safeguard antibiotic use.

The Mastatest campaign has been a team-wide project within CVS Farm practices. Whilst vets have taken samples on the farm, administration staff have set up and run the samples on Mastatest machines within practice.

James Kennedy, Large Animal Director at CVS, said: “Our Farm practices want to provide good and effective care to farms in practical day-to-day terms. Bovine mastitis is a significant cause of loss to our dairy farmers. The new Mastatest technology and support we’ve set up in every practice will ensure delays are reduced in providing the right treatment. The programme is also a significant step towards reducing unnecessary antibiotic use to help guard against antimicrobial resistance.”

CVS Farm is taking a ‘One Health’ approach to clinical improvement and developing practical projects to address related challenges, such as antimicrobial resistance and improving animal welfare. Every practice has appointed a vet to be a Practice Quality Improvement Lead, who collaboratively brainstorms how to overcome challenges, develops ideas for clinical improvement, identifies the resources and technology needed to implement each project, and advocates for programme delivery within a practice’s team.

CVS Group operates across small animal, farm animal, equine, laboratories and crematoria, with over 500 veterinary practices and referral centres in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands and Australia. In the last five years the company has invested nearly £80 million in its sites, facilities and equipment, in addition to industry leading training and support, to give the best possible care to animals. For further information on CVS visit the website.

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