Managing Free Stall Bedding Materials

Controlling the incidence of bovine mastitis is based on reducing the exposure of cows to mastitis pathogens in the environment. Bedding in stalls is very closely related to the bacterial exposure of the cows due to the fact that cows spend from 8 to 14 hours daily lying down with their udders in direct contact with the stall surface material. One important source of environmental mastitis pathogens that can be controlled, is bedding materials.

 

Product or Practice?

Bedding materials are primary sources of mastitis-causing environmental pathogens.  Populations of these bacteria in bedding are related to the number of bacteria on teat ends and rates of clinical mastitis. Consequently, reducing the number of bacteria in bedding generally reduces the incidence of environmental mastitis in a herd. Environmental mastitis pathogens include coliforms and environmental streptococci. The primary transfer of these pathogens from the environment to teat ends does not occur during milking but between milkings.   Coliforms and