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Herd Health Management cares deeply about the health and well-being of your animals, as well as how it relates to human health. Mastitis, inflammation, or infection of the mammary gland can be very detrimental to an animal's health, and can result in abnormal or foul tasting milk, systemic illness, and the spread of contagious pathogens to herdmates, as well as to any humans who consume the milk or milk products. Of particular concern is the fact that some infections exhibit no clinical signs, and may be difficult to detect with the naked eye.
Here are the guidelines for submitting a sterile milk sample to Herd Health's mastitis laboratory.
We recommend that animals be tested, regardless of milk consistency, at the beginning of each lactation. This allows us to see if any infection was being harbored during the dry period, or if an infection is brewing early on in the lactation. In order to obtain a diagnostic sample, a sterile milk sample will need to be collected, in order to ensure that none of the skin's natural bacteria have made it into the sample. Here are the steps for sterile milk sample collection.
Sterile Milk Sample Collection Steps
You will need the following materials for a sterile milk sample.
- Alcohol preps
- Sterile milk tubes (can be obtained from the Herd Health office)
- Permanent marker to label samples
- Wash udder with warm water and soap, making sure to remove any large particulate matter. Animals that are in dirty environments may need to be washed several times to remove all of the debris.
- Once the udder is washed of all visible debris, dry thoroughly with a clean cloth, making sure the teats and teat ends are dry.
- Working with one teat at a time. Wipe the end of the teats with an alcohol prep, removing any remaining debris that may be present. You may need to wipe several times in order to remove all debris from the teat end.
- Strip out a small amount of milk (2-3 squirts) from the teat. This will clear the streak canal and get milk flowing.
- Place your sterile milk sampling tube at a 45 degree angle and aim the milk stream toward the tube. Once the tube is filled, cap the lid, label your sample and keep refrigerated until the sample can be dropped off at the Herd Health Mastitis Laboratory. Repeat steps 3-5 for the remaining teats.
After we receive your milk sample, we will put those samples on special bacteria culture plates and allow them to incubate for 24 and 48 hrs. Additionally we also culture for mycoplasma, which takes on average 3-7 days to grow. As soon as we have results we will give you a call and discuss our findings.