Beef Heifer Mastitis: How Much Do You Know?

A family of cows walking through a pasture
Beef Heifer Mastitis: How Much Do You Know?

Without a fly management program in place, beef heifer mastitis can spread quickly throughout a herd, leading to blind quarters, decreased weaning weights and a decreased bottom line. The first step in protecting your cattle against the damaging effects of beef heifer mastitis is educating yourself on the disease. Once you understand what it is, the better you can implement proper practices and preventative measures to protect your herd. Brush up on your knowledge with this helpful guide.

This disease occurs in cattle when one or more teats become inflamed, leading to infection. An often overlooked issue, mastitis destroys milk-producing tissues, which may result in blind quarters. When mastitis and blind quarters occur, milk production is drastically affected and weaning weights decrease--- studies show that milk production accounts for 60% variation in calf weaning weight.

Horn flies tend to feed on the blood vessels in the skin of the teat, causing irritation. The horn flies can carry mastitis-causing bacteria that enter the teat orifice and move upward in the quarter, destroying milk-producing tissues. With up to 40 blood meals a day, female horn flies only leave the animals to lay eggs in fresh manure. As the flies go from animal to animal, the disease can quickly spread throughout the herd.

When beef heifers mature in confined areas with high fly populations, the occurrence of mastitis increases. Beef operators should implement an integrated pest management program established around a feed-through fly control product like Altosid® IGR. An effective IPM involves proper sanitation, maintaining physical structures, incorporating naturally occurring fly enemies, and using chemical controls. Altosid® IGR is a feed-through fly control solution that passes through the digestive system and works in cattle manure where horn flies lay their eggs, limiting future fly populations. Unlike other feed-through products, Altosid® IGR is classified as an insect growth regulator (IGR). The active ingredient in Altosid® IGR mimics naturally occurring insect biochemicals that are responsible for insect development. By interrupting the fly's life cycle, Altosid® IGR keeps the horn fly larvae from developing into breeding, biting adult flies. Want to learn more? Check out this resource and watch the video below.

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