Weekly Series: A Tool Box for Udder Health
week EIGHT: Taking Sterile Milk Samples & The California Mastitis Test
Part of udder health programs include microbiological analysis of milk from cows suspected of having mastitis. Culturing milk samples allows the identification of the bacteria that are causing the mastitis and the application of preventive management programs. Strict aseptic procedures must be used when collecting milk samples to avoid contamination with bacteria present on the skin of the cow, hands of the sampler and barn environment.
Identification of cows subclinically infected with mastitis is also an important part of udder health programs. Cows with subclinical mastitis infections do not have a swollen udders or abnormal looking milk. However because an infection is present the somatic cell count in the milk will be elevated. The California Mastitis Test (CMT) is a simple, inexpensive way of detecting unseen infections. Unlike other tests that require laboratories to interpret the results, the CMT is a cowside test that gives valuable, rapid results.