The use of antibiotics in livestock farming has been a controversial topic for years. Livestock farmers cannot avoid it, because otherwise the cattle will suffer unnecessarily during an infection or even die, but there are great risks involved. For example, resistant bacteria can spread among people through food and the environment. It is a danger to public health.

Symptoms of mastitis

A common infection in cows is mastitis, an inflammation of the udder tissue caused by bacteria that enter the udder. The symptoms of mastitis are swelling, a painful udder, abnormal milk, and sometimes also fever. The regular mastitis tests must be carried out by a veterinarian and the result will take at least 3 to 4 days. Farmers often take it for granted —their livestock either are already on antibiotics within this time or the cattle have become so sick that they have to be given medical treatment immediately. The new mastitis test gives the results within 12 to 14 hours and shows which type of pathogen must be controlled immediately.

Economic problems

"When antibiotics are given to the cattle, the milk from the cow cannot be used for about ten days. The infection is bad for animal welfare but also involves a major economic problem for the farmer," explains Herbert Rehbein, veterinarian and owner of Veterinary Enterprises Europe B.V. "The milk that a cow with antibiotics gives is not suitable for human consumption and must be disposed of. With this test we can see if there are pathogens in the milk and whether these are Gram-positive or Gram-negative pathogens. A different treatment is required for both variants. In addition, it can be decided not to use antibiotics that should preferably be reserved only for people. In many cases, it turns out to be completely unnecessary to treat mastitis with antibiotics and up to 60 percent of cases can be treated without antibiotics.”

Milk sample

The new mastitis test can be carried out by the farmer himself, in which case a milk sample must be taken in a clean aseptic manner. The milk sample is transferred from the sample tube into the test tubes using a calibrated disposable pipette. If the tubes are still pink after 12 to 14 hours at 37 ° C, no pathogen has been detected. If one of the tubes has turned white, gram-negative pathogens have been discovered. If both tubes are white, there are gram-positive pathogens in the milk.