Ready access to fresh milk that is safe, of high quality and tastes wonderful is something that we in North America and Europe often take for granted. Yet in many of the most populous parts of the globe, this is not the case.
I recently had the opportunity to speak at the 2017 International Bovine Mastitis Conference in Beijing, China. The three-day conference, co-sponsored by the National Mastitis Council, featured speakers from around the world. Despite the fact that China is the world’s third largest producer of milk with a growing consumer demand, the lack of trust in the product because of the melamine scandal of 2008 still lingers. Regaining consumer trust once it is lost is no easy task.
Producing milk that is of consistently high quality and always safe, in an era where antimicrobial use and animal welfare have our industry under close observation, requires meticulous attention to the consistent application of scientifically sound mastitis prevention and control practices.
The interaction with the conference participants in China reminded me that despite the differences in geography, climate and language, the principles of mastitis control are fundamentally simple. The ‘5-point plan’ (treat and record clinical mastitis; post milking teat disinfection; dry cow therapy; culling chronic cows and milking machine maintenance) is as pertinent today as it was at its inception, more than 50 years ago.
Whether we are dairy producers, veterinarians or consultants, a regular review of our milk harvest and mastitis control practices is vital. While we strive to move science and discovery forward, we must never forget the foundational principles that ensure the safety and quality of our milk supply on a daily basis.
David Kelton holds the DVM, MSc and PhD degrees, all from the University of Guelph. He is a professor of veterinary epidemiology and the Dairy Farmers of Ontario Dairy Cattle Health Research Chair in the Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. He is the Canadian Representative to the International Dairy Federation Standing Committee on Animal Health and Welfare and currently serves as Vice-President of the National Mastitis Council.