Nanjala milking her cow

Nanjala milking her cow

Women play an important role in family farming; while men are busy farming for cash, they farm to provide their families with nutrition. As they farm, women are confronted with a myriad of challenges the worst of which is diseases. For this reason, there is a necessity for women to ensure prevention of diseases in their animals. Mastitis is one of the diseases that is causing havoc in their livestock and should be avoided by all means.

Mastitis is the most prevalent and atrocious disease that decimates many herds every year, yet it’s easy to prevent – as it was explained by one farmer, Nanjala. Mastitis is characterized by the inflammation of the mammary glands and udder tissue involving one or more quarters of the udder-the udder is divided into four quarters each with a teat. Mastitis that is characterized by the swelling of the whole udder or any of the quarters of the udder, firmness, increased temperature of the udder or palpation and changes in milk consistency and colour is termed clinical Mastitis. Another type of mastitis may not show these signs and is termed non-clinical.

Mastitis may be caused by a variety of factors including bacteria and physical injury .The source of bacteria could be a cow suffering from diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis and leptospirosis. Mastitis cases increase where there are enabling factors such as poor hygiene, wounds on the teats, direct injury to the udder, faulty milking machines, faulty milking techniques, poor disinfection procedures and continual presence of cows with mastitis in the herd, especially at milking time.

Mastitis:an infected cow

Mastitis:an infected cow

Mastitis may either be per acute, sub-acute and chronic depending on the severity of signs observed. The per acute case is severe and has a systemic reaction which is assessed by a high body temperature of more than 39.2 degrees Celsius. The other cases do not have a rise in body temperature.

The spread of mastitis maybe as a result of contamination of milker’s hands, wash cloths and milking and milking machine cups by milk from infected quarters .cows that develop mastitis will die if it is severe and correct and adequate treatment is not given. Inadequate treatment will lead to incomplete cure resulting in chronic mastitis in which case the cow will produce low quality and quantity of milk.

The milk from infected quarter of the udder is not good for human or calf consumption and must e discarded .This comes at an expense of lack of food in the family as a result of poor milk production and cost of medicine and veterinary surgeon’s fees.

To avoid mastitis, Nanjala, a small-scale farmer from Kitale in Kenya advises that the following should be undertaken as she has also been applying them;

  • Always use warm water and soap in washing hands between the milking of each cow to limit the cross contamination and the spread of diseases.
  • Always wear clean protective clothes
  • Wash dirty udders with water and look out for signs of udder infection. Cows with mastitis should be milked last
  • Never use a communal cloth to clean more than one udder. After fore-milking, clean and dry the teats with disposable towel.
  • Pre-dip the teats as this lowers the risk of new infections and use a single paper towel per cow and dry teats before milking. Dip each teat immediately after milking by using an approved teat dip that kills 99.9%of the bacteria that cause mastitis in 30 seconds.
  • Calving areas must be clean and must have proper bedding, preferably straw.

With the above steps, Nanjala has managed to overcome this disease that affects most of dairy cattle in her village. She is now referred to as a ‘Dairy Farmer’ in her village since she stands out in being the best producer of milk.