Solutions without antibiotics
Richard Olde Riekerink, from Bayer Animal Health, and headquartered in New Zealand, applauds the active search for better and more effective treatment methods for diseases such as mastitis. "In addition to fertility problems, mastitis is one of the major diseases for dairy cows. In the coming year, we therefore want to put more effort in to find new solutions for the growing dairy sector. We put emphasis on working with universities to do so. It is key to prevent cows from developing mastitis, but we also examine savvy, innovative methods to treat subclinical and clinical cases. Sometimes antibiotics are still the most effective way to get the disease quickly under control, but we are also investigating certain non-antibiotic solutions.”
The company is committed to improving mastitis treatment and control by, for example, developing a vaccine against Staphylococcus aureus and to optimise the formulation / dosage of injectors (so that less active substance / antibiotics is needed to get the same result). "It is important that we find solutions to better reach / target the mastitis causing bacteria in the udder. Some bacteria are very smart and hide very well in the udder tissue. After treatment of the udder, it often seems that the problem is solved and the bacteria are gone, but mastitis may then appear once again at a later stage.” Bayer is also investigating (together with a university) the development of injectors based on keratin (the natural protein found in skin and hair for example). "The inside of the teat is not even and we are examining whether keratin can form a better plug in the nipple or stimulate the natural keratin plug compared with the current injectors. This way, the teat canal is better closed off against bacteria."
Responsible use of antibiotics
According to Schukken from the GD, new insights into bacterial variation in the udder are vital to develop better treatment protocols. He therefore welcomes more research on this topic (done by universities and the industry). "The decision to treat animals with antibiotics for mastitis example, must always be done in a responsible way. Ultimately, we want a reduction in the total antibiotic use worldwide. Insights into bacterial populations of the udder and stimulation of the immune system (mainly in the dry period of cows) are some of the new tools that can help to achieve this goal. One thing is clear; we still have things to learn about mastitis.”