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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 essential oils.
When a treatment is being administered it is important to modify other practices:
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 udder.
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.
Would you recommend clay treatment for sows as well?
Clay treatment can be used on a saw but the information given here is general advice only and should not be considered a replacement for professional advice from a homeopathic veterinarian that you have a client-patient relationship with.