Mastitis Reduction – Know Thy Enemy

Unique Tools to Reduce
& Prevent Mastitis

Farmers with spiking total bacteria counts, rising somatic cell count (SCC) or other milk quality concerns no longer have to speculate about where it comes from. Snapshot, a unique test developed by our team at Farm Medix and delivered on-farm by our partners, can help dairy farmers determine exactly what pathogens are present in their milk so they can act swiftly.

Snapshot is a bulk milk sample diagnostic test where milk is cultured and screened for several types of pathogens (bacteria, yeast, algae). It quickly determines whether it is an issue with the milk plant, in-shed practices or within the herd.

“If a farmer gets a milk quality grade, without doing a test like Snapshot, they are going through a standard checklist of trial and error. Without pathogen identification, it’s really hard to know where the problem is coming from. Is it the cows, in-shed processes, or is it coming from the plant?” Farm Medix Chief Scientific Officer, Natasha Maguire says. “People can end up penalised for a longer time – until they realise what the source is.”

Snapshot results come back within 36 hours in a comprehensive report that tells the farmer what type of mastitis pathogens they are dealing with, be they opportunistic, environmental or contagious.

“Snapshot is a game changer.”

Snapshot is a game changer in that it quickly quantifies any milk quality issues and where they are coming from. The Snapshot process is easy for farmers. Our partners, like the area managers at GEA’s FIL, collect the milk sample, plate, incubate and send results to our team to analyse and advise. We then consult with farmers to help them understand the test results and provide practical recommendations for what to do on farm.


Bede Murphy, National Sales Manager at GEA’s FIL says “Snapshot removes any assumptions; having accurate information is priceless to farmers who can immediately focus on the source of the problem and find a solution. I’ve been doing this for 30 years, what we’ve thought in the past isn’t always what’s actually happening. For example, one year, during an exceptionally wet winter, farmers had a lot of coliform. Before Farm Medix came along, we would always have looked for issues in the plant and I would have told you it was coliform mastitis less than 5% of the time. But through using Snapshot we found there was actually a high number of coliform mastitis present in herds. Likewise, during spring, a grade for bactoscan will often be from mastitis, but people will assume it is a dirty plant and will start pulling it apart, replacing seals and rubberware. Not anymore!”

Snapshot is not just a tool for people who are failing, Natasha says.

Farmers have different trigger points of where they are comfortable at when it comes to milk quality. When their somatic cell count goes above 100,000, some farmers want to know why. For others, they can use the Snapshot test to solve a problem they have had for years. “Sometimes farmers have a somatic cell count they don’t deserve – they can be fastidiously clean and doing everything right and their cell count is still 250,000.”

Are you purchasing healthy cows? Snapshot is also an excellent tool for farmers purchasing cows. With Snapshot, farmers can test for any contagious pathogens such as Staph aureus (Staph) in the herd. Farmers are buying and selling cows frequently and with more animal movement comes more risk so a Snapshot test from the seller’s herd can be invaluable.

“If there is Staph present in the herd, farmers can follow up and do a Herdscreen test from Farm Medix which checks individual cows for any contagious pathogens. The ability to test a herd or a section of a herd is here and quite a few people are doing it now. It can stop you from bringing a Staph problem into your herd. With this inexpensive testing there is no need to have a Staph issue in your herd.” Says Bede.

Day-to-day clinical mastitis identification– Farm Medix’s Check-Up mastitis detection tool allows farmers to individually test cows on farm to determine what mastitis pathogen is present. Farmers have been on the battle grounds for years trying to prevent and cure mastitis without knowing the identity of the bacteria strain they were trying to treat. When it comes to treating mastitis, it is important to know what pathogen is causing it (t can be bacterial, a yeast, or an algae like Prototheca) so you can choose the best course of treatment, Natasha says.
With this test, farmers can have the results within 24 hours and can make more informed decisions when it comes to treating the cow.

“Know what your enemy is – if you know what you’re dealing with you can make better strategic decisions.”

Managing mastitis and antibiotic stewardship goals.

With the rising issue of antibiotic resistance and the need to reduce antibiotic use on farms, it is going to become even more important for farmers to identify and treat mastitis accurately. Globally the drive to reduce antibiotic use is accelerating. The New Zealand Veterinary Association has set a goal that by 2030 to maintain the health and wellness of all animals without the need for antibiotics, other than in exceptional or emergency circumstances.

Blanket dry cow therapy (DCT) is one practice that will have to be addressed by the dairy industry, along with using antibiotics responsibly to treat mastitis cases.

Farmers care about their cows and have therefore been using antibiotics more profusely to maintain good animal welfare, Natasha says. “Farmers have not had the tools available to them and have been acting on the side of caution because they haven’t had any other information to go on. How do you start using less drugs? The answer is you need to know what you’re dealing with.”

Farmers are one group that really strive to improve and want to look after their animals and have excellent milk quality, she says.  “With the information you get from Farm Medix solutions, people can responsibly and confidently use less antibiotics while reducing mastitis in their herds.”


Snapshot – a bulk milk sample test used to identify pathogens and determine where they are coming from: the cows or hygiene related.


Herdscreen – If a contagious mastitis pathogen is found in the Snapshot test, farmers can then screen the herd to find the infected cows by doing a Farm Medix Herdscreen. Farmers take a milk sample from each cow to identify cows with the contagious bacteria and isolate them, so they are not continually infecting other cows.


Check-Up– Farmers can also purchase a Check-Up mastitis diagnostic kit from Farm Medix to continue sampling individual cows throughout the season. Check-Up tests for 20 different mastitis bacteria and includes reference materials, incubator and consumable test kits. Farm Medix has a 7 day/week backup service, farmers can text through photos of the results if they are unsure and get advice.

For more information about how to get started and pricing please contact us using the form below and you will be put in touch with one of our local partners.