Mastitis in beef cattle

Mastitis is routinely found in dairy cattle; however, it is a growing problem in beef cattle herds—so much so that the result is weaning weights are subject to reduction. (Photo by Jessica Crabtree)

By Jessica Crabtree and Dr. Jered Harlan

Mastitis – what is it? Mastitis is the inflammation of the mammary gland which can significantly reduce milk production. Mastitis is routinely found in dairy cattle; however, it is a growing problem in beef cattle herds—so much so that the result is weaning weights are subject to reduction by seven to twelve percent.

According to the specific cases, signs and symptoms, mastitis can be broken down into four categories: peracute, acute, subacute and subclinical mastitis.

If the bag appears swollen, hot and red, producers can diagnose peracute mastitis. The cow may kick or flinch when touched due to sensitivity, and milk production will be reduced. A fever will most likely be present followed by shivering, rapid weight loss, loss of appetite and depressed behavior. In severe cases of peracute mastitis, death is possible.

With acute mastitis, symptoms include inflammation, some signs of fever and mild depression. Subacute mastitis is different. Symptoms are much less distinct due to no signs of fever, depression or any other general signs associated with mastitis. Lastly, subclinical mastitis is the inflammation of the mammary gland, without showing any signs or symptoms. To read more pick up a copy of the June 2016 NTFR issue.