Dealing with a common, and costly, problem for dairy farmers worldwide. Transcript of radio broadcast:
This is the
VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
sheep, goats and other animals can get mastitis, an inflammation in the udder,
the organ where milk is produced.
Milk from an untreated cow is still
relatively safe to drink. But the milk is full of white blood cells that
thicken and make the milk go bad more quickly. Goat milk, though, might still
more cells in milk, the lower the price that farmers can get for it. In the
United States, if milk contains too many cells, it cannot legally be sold.
sign of mastitis is cracked skin on the teats. Also, the udder becomes hot,
painful and enlarged, and the animal may not eat.
can spread as a bacterial infection. So infected animals should be milked
separately from uninfected ones. Flies can also spread the bacteria.
ten percent of cases are so severe that the cow dies or never returns to good
production. But antibiotics can treat most cases.
farmers have to throw away milk produced during treatment because of rules
against antibiotic residues in milk.
Schukken at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, says the best way to
prevent mastitis is to keep the animals clean. The same is true for milking
machines, milking areas and pasture lands -- the cleaner the better, he says.
should always wash their hands. And, in the United States, teats must be
disinfected with iodine or other chemical disinfectant before milking. And then
they are cleaned before a milking device is used.
Teat injuries can also cause mastitis,
so be careful during milking.
Ynte Schukken says mastitis is commonly
the number one problem of dairy farmers worldwide. But lately other concerns
about the safety of milk products have increased. This follows the discovery of
a poisonous industrial chemical in large amounts of Chinese milk. Health
officials in China say the problem has been corrected. But the situation is a
reminder of the importance of milk safety measures.
at Cornell are working with American dairy farmers on new systems. Doctor
Schukken sees a lot of promise in bulk-tank monitoring systems. Milk is kept
cold in large tanks where it is continuously mixed. This way, any testing
sample is considered a good representation of all the milk. Less than one
hundred milliliters is all the milk needed for laboratory tests for bacteria,
viral diseases and other threats.
And that's the VOA Special English
Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson with additional reporting by
Veronique LaCapra. I'm Bob Doughty.