To diagnose mastitis, it is necessary to learn how to distinguish between the
symptoms of the various types of mastitis infection. Sanitary milking habits are important to avoid the spreading of germs or their proliferation. The purpose of hygiene is to prevent the transmission of germs from one teat to another on one cow or from one cow to another. Washing the udder is hygienic and has a stimulating effect on milk flow. Adequate washing is especially important to prevent environmental mastitis, caused by coliforms and other microbes from contaminated environments. Badly washed udders contribute to the transmission of microbes rather than to their destruction. There is a recipe for washing udders used by Daniel Lapointe, an organic dairyman from Quebec. Although the antiseptic value of this formula has never been scientifically tested, he has been using it for many years with good results. It consists of mixing 13 litres of hot water, 1 drop of pine oil, 1 capful of peroxide and 1 ounce of clay.
The following curative measures are particularly for clinical and chronic
mastitis. There is a vast range of curative methods that may be used as an
alternative to antibiotics: homeopathy, clay therapy, phytotherapy, etc. The
advantage of homeopathy over antibiotics is that milking may be continued. The
other alternative products used must not go in the bulk milk because tests for
detecting antibiotics in milk may react positively to certain products like some
When a treatment is being administered it is important to modify other - Infected cows must be fed prudently. Concentrates must be reduced and
extra fibres and laxatives must be included. In cases of clinical mastitis,
Eckles7 recommends reducing grain rations by one third as soon as
symptoms appear and until they disappear;
- A purge must be given (except with homeopathic treatments);
- Avoid exposing infected animals to cold and draughts;
- Milk gently by hand 3 to 6 times a day.
Extreme caution must be used with products that are injected into the teat.
It is quite difficult to make a «clean" injection in a contaminated environment
such as a dairy barn without provoking a new contamination in the quarter.
In all cases, it is important to immediately contact a veterinarian
if there is no rapid improvement.
Clay has several therapeutic properties. On account of its high absorbency,
it has proved efficient as dressing to treat inflammation caused by mastitis. To
prepare a clay dressing, the clay is mixed with a liquid. Some producers use
room-temperature water, while others use olive oil. A good compromise is to use
half water, half oil, with the oil giving a more elastic consistency to the
paste. The final result must be fairly liquid while adhering well to the
When using water, it can be allowed to penetrate slowly into the clay without
mixing. The container should be covered with a cloth and set out in the sun. The
oil mixture on the other hand must be mixed. In both cases, a wooden spoon must
be used and ideally the container should be a non-reactive material like
porcelain or glass. The therapeutic effect of the paste may be increased by
adding 2 to 3 drops of pine or thyme oil for every two litres of mixture.
The clay dressing must be spread over the infected parts of the udder after
milking. The clay may be removed once dry and replaced 2 to 3 times a day by a
new application. The dressing may be left on all night after evening milking.
In the case of the mixture containing oil, the mastitis has healed when the
udder stays oily after the dry clay has been removed. This treatment should
produce results in two to three hours in the case of acute mastitis, 4 to 6
hours with less serious forms and two to three days with chronic mastitis. It
the treatment does not appear to be having any effect after this time, other
measures must be considered.
The following information is general advice only and should not be considered
a replacement for professional advice from a homeopathic veterinarian.
Preventive homeopathic treatments are administered using nosodes on an entire
herd rather than on individual animals. Nosodes are fragments of pathogenic
cells that increase the immune response. Nosode preparation is established
according to the species of bacteria causing the problem in the herd.
MacLeod23 recommends a nosode of 30 dilutions in liquid form
administered by the mouth or in the herd's drinking water.
An alternative to nosodes that is particularly effective for subclinical
mastitis is to use in conjunction homeopathic remedies that have proven
effective against mammary gland afflictions. MacLeod23 recommends the
following combinations as multiple use remedies: Belladonna, Bryonia and Urtica
Urens; Phytolacca, Sulphur, Silicea and Carbo vegetabilis.
Most homeopathic laboratories (see list of useful addresses on page XX) offer
specific complexes for mastitis. The advantage of these complexes, which heal
three out of four cases, is that they are easy to use. Some practitioners do not
recommend the use of complexes on animals that are to be kept for several years
because these substances tend to "confuse" the immune system.
Homeopathic treatments are administered through the mucous membrane.
Homeopathy is less effective when the infection is caused by injury to the teat.