Back to latest-news Rapid on-farm testing for mastitis

Rapid on-farm testing for mastitis

20 September 2021

With an increased awareness around antimicrobial stewardship demand for rapid on-farm diagnostic testing for mastitis has been increasingly strongly over the past few seasons.

Developed in NZ, Mastatest is the first on farm technology globally available to determine both the type of bacteria causing the mastitis, and the antibiotic sensitivities against the bacteria within 24 hours, using advanced cloud diagnostics.

Distributor AgriHealth says close to 1000 Mastatest Lapboxes are now on farms and in clinics throughout New Zealand, generating tens of thousands of test reports and revealing valuable insights in disease incidence and causative pathogens helping vets and farmers to improve treatment outcomes.

Clinical validation trials have shown the accuracy of Mastatest results are equivalent to those of traditional laboratory cultures, and the 24-hour turn-around means farmers can cure infected cows faster and more effectively.

Rather than guessing which antibiotic to use, Mastatest enables dairy farmers to select the best suited antibiotic treatment from those prescribed by their vet for each mastitis case because the bacteria have been identified.

The test is simple for farmers to perform; all they have to do is fill a cartridge with a milk sample and place it into the Lapbox incubator. Pathogens involved and MIC values for the antimicrobials tested are identified within 24 hours and immediately emailed to the vet and farmer.

Treating with a nil-milk-withhold pain relief product like KetoMax while waiting 24 hours for the Mastatest result improves animal welfare and ensures antibiotics are only used when needed.

AgriHealth veterinarian Steve Cranefield says from more than 16,000 Mastatest results analysed 12 per cent of samples are returning no growths, and 11 per cent are returning gram negative infections.

“Antibiotic treatment is not indicated in either scenario, meaning farmers who use Mastatest avoid unnecessary antibiotic treatment for at least one in five cows affected by mastitis”.  

“Mastatest is a game changer – the farmer knows whether to use antibiotics or not and if so which one to use – that fits the dairy industries’ drive for evidence-based antibiotic prescription on an individual  cow basis”

Mastatest is the way of the future Cranefield says because it provides:

1.      Documented justification for antibiotic treatment if bacteria are present and likely to respond to antibiotics

2.      Accurate application of the ‘traffic light system’ for antibiotic use – ensuring that critically important antibiotics are only used when needed

3.      More information on the etiology of clinical mastitis so mastitis prevention can focus on the right areas.

4.      Building a knowledge base for the industry. Local, regional and nationwide trends of mastitis bacteria over time.

5.      A cost benefit for farmers through reduced antimicrobial use, reduced milk discard, improved milk quality and reduced culling.

This season, Mastatest clinical mastitis cartridges were upgraded to identify Serratia / Klebsiella in addition to the existing panel of pathogens.

There’s also a new high somatic cell (HiSCC) cartridge available for Mastatest which farmers can use to identify the bacteria involved for sub clinically infected cows in both early lactation, and late lactation or dry off.

For more detail visit

Source: AgriVet magazine, September

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