Mastitis: An Issue Not to be Taken Lightly

Michele Marques, PhD student from the Animal Bioscience Program, Federal Rural University of Pernambuco – Brazil
Guilherme Moura, PhD student from the Animal Bioscience Program, Federal Rural University of Pernambuco – Brazil
Luciana da Costa, DVM, MSc, PhD, OSU Assitant Professor, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine (


Mastitis in Small Ruminants:

What is mastitis?
Mastitis in goats and sheep, similar to cows, is defined as inflammation of the mammary gland and can occurs due several factors, which may be infectiousor not and may present in clinical or subclinical form. In clinical mastitis, it is possible to observe the signs of inflammation, such as:

  • pain,
  • redness,
  • swelling of the gland,
  • and changes in milk characteristics, which may show lumps, pinkish/reddish coloration or even absence of secretion.
  • Some severe cases could lead to udder necrosis (“blue bag”) and even death.

In subclinical mastitis, the female does not present inflammatory signs, however, due to presence of some microorganisms in the mammary gland milk quality can be decreased.

(Gangrenous mastitis in a goat.)


(Difference between normal milk and milk from gangrenous mastitis.)


(Sheep mastitis.)

The inflammatory process of the mammary gland can have several origins. For example, traumas and lesions or it can be due to infectious agents, such as fungi, viruses, or in majority of cases bacterial agents. They can cause either environmental or contagious mastitis.

  • Environmental mastitis is directly related to the hygiene of the places where these ewes and goats remain.
  • Contagious mastitis are associated with transmission between animals and even between human-animal interactions.

Whereas most bacteria can cause either clinical or subclinical mastitis, Staphylococcus aureusPasteurella hemolytica and various yeasts and molds are often recovered from milk samples of ewes affected with clinical symptoms. “Blue bag” (clinical mastitis with a hard, cold swollen udder) is typically caused by Pasteurella hemolytica or Staphylococcus aureus.  Coagulase-negative staphylococci have been frequently reported to be the most commonly isolated pathogens recovered from cases of subclinical mastitis of dairy ewes.

**Ewes with subclinical mastitis produce less quantities of milk and milk with lower quality.

(Blood agar plate with Staphylococcus aureus colonies (contagious mastitis).)

Management / Control
The correct management of the ewes and goats in any production system, dairy or meat, is the key point for mastitis control. Preventing mastitis in dairy herds will ensure milk quality, animal health and welfare.

Among the most important measures in management of dairy goats and ewes, we can point out the sanitary control of the animals, especially regarding clinical forms of mastitis, separating the positive animals and discarding the contaminated milk.

In addition, the adoption of a microbiological-based milking line, pre and post dipping usage, and regular maintenance and hygiene of milking machines are measures that also contribute to better milk quality and animal health.

In meat herds and flocks, mastitis control is mainly based on culling animals that present recurrent episodes of clinical mastitis, which directly affect kid and lamb growth. The other general managements are related to hygiene measures that should be part of the property routine, ensuring a clean environment on stables, maternity paddocks, milking parlor, material and equipment used in milking.

(Milk samples for culture in blood agar plates.)

(Dairy goat milking parlor.)


  • Mastitis is considered one of the mostly costing diseases in the world, because it directly affects milk quality and its products.
  • In meat herds and flocks, it is notorious for the losses of kids and lambs due to mortality as a result of low nutrition caused by mastitis.
  • Prevention of infection is the key to control mastitis.
  • Good hygienic housing and consistent milking practices are crucial to minimize the impact of this disease.

Time to Double Check Your Heifer Development Program

– Dr. Les Anderson, Beef Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky

The first of January is an important “check-point” in spring heifer development programs. The key to proper heifer development lies in understanding the factors that influence conception in yearling heifers. One key factor regulating heifer fertility is age at puberty. Most producers don’t consider age at puberty of their heifers to be a major problem, yet few know how many heifers are actually cyclic at the beginning of the breeding season. A Nebraska study demonstrated that the proportion of heifers that were pubertal on the first day of the breeding season varied greatly over 5 consecutive years in a single a herd. The percentage of heifers that were pubertal on the first day of the breeding season ranged from only 21% to as high as 64% over the 5-year period. For maximum fertility and reproductive performance, heifers must have had at least one estrus before the beginning of the breeding season. Our goal then is to incorporate reproductive management techniques to reduce the age of puberty, increase fertility, and shorten the interval to conception.

One of the largest factors that regulate puberty in the heifer is weight. For puberty to occur, heifers must weigh at least 65% of their mature weight. This weight is referred to as their target weight. Most heifer development programs require that heifers reach their target weight, approximately 65% of their expected mature weight, by the onset of their first breeding season. Because fertility increases until the third estrus after puberty, heifers should reach their target weight at least 30 days before the start of the breeding season. I refer to this date as the target date.

January is the time to determine if your heifers are “on track”. Most yearling heifers will need to reach 700-800 pounds (their projected target weight) by mid-April to ensure high fertility assuming that the heifer breeding season starts about mid-May. Weigh your heifers to determine how much they have left to gain to reach their target weight. If the heifers weighed on average 600 pounds and their target weight is 750 pounds then they will need to gain 150 pounds or 1.5 – 1.6 pounds each day to reach their target weight by mid-April. Heifers should reach a BCS of 5.0-5.5 by their target date.

The next important phase in heifer development occurs one month prior to the start of the breeding season. At this time, heifers should be vaccinated (Vibrio fetus, Leptospirosis, and the respiratory disease complex which includes PI3, BRSV, BVD and IBR; modified-live vaccine is preferred), dewormed, and pelvic area measurements should be obtained. Heifers with small pelvic areas and especially large heifers will small pelvic areas tend to have greater difficulty calving. Now is the time to contact your local veterinarian to schedule this pre-breeding work.

Producers should consider estrus synchronization and/or AI. Estrous synchronization and AI has many advantages which include: higher pregnancy rates, heavier, more uniform calves at weaning, and increase production and labor efficiency. The greatest advantage of AI is the ability to use superior, more predictable sires. Since a majority of calving problems in a herd occur when calving first-calf heifers, it seems only logical to synchronize and AI your heifers to proven calving ease bulls. Contact your local AI technician to schedule a time to breed your heifers. Next month, I will discuss various methods for estrous synchronization.

Proper heifer development is one of the key components to profitability in a beef cattle operation. Understanding the principles of heifer development can enable producers to incorporate management techniques to improve the efficiency of the operation.

Five Pasture Improvements to Begin in January

– Dean Kreager, OSU Extension AgNR Educator, Licking County (this article originally published in Farm & Dairy)

New Year’s Day has come and gone, as have some of our New Year’s resolutions: eat less junk food, go to the gym more often, lose weight, and the list goes on.

I hope our pasture management goals for the year last longer. As I contemplate the projects I have completed and those that are still on the list for another year, I think about how I can get more production from my pasture or how I can feed more animals on the same amount of land.

Today, I will stick with the “5 Things” theme in this issue and will touch on five areas of pasture management you can work on in January to improve utilization of your pastures through the growing season.

1) Weed control: Controlling woody invasive species such as multiflora rose, honey locust, and hawthorn trees can improve your pastures by reducing competition for nutrients as well as saving on flat tire repair, and reducing the number of lame animals from thorns.

A 2005 report from Cornell estimated invasive weeds in pastures in the United States cost $1 billion a year in losses and damages. It is a never-ending war, but even in January, you can win some battles.

Many herbicides are labeled for use on woody invasives and each use has advantages and disadvantages. During the winter, a basal bark treatment can be effective in controlling these problem plants.

Basal bark applications can be applied anytime during dormancy, which is typically mid-December to early April, as long as the plants are dry and little or no snow covers the base of the plant.

This time of year, with less vegetation, even small multiflora rose bushes or honey locust trees are easy to spot. Spraying can be limited to a small section of the plant reducing the amount of spray needed and the size of equipment used. A backpack sprayer is a good option.

Winter basal bark treatments also reduce the chance of harm to other plants from drift or through uptake from actively growing plants.

The spray mixture for basal bark treatment will usually be an oil soluble herbicide mixed with a petroleum-based product such as diesel fuel or kerosene.

A triclopyr product or one that has triclopyr and 2, 4-D can be very effective. The mixture is sprayed on the bottom 18 to 24 inches of the stem and crown of plants.

It will often work on plants with a diameter of up to 6 inches. A colorant can be added to assist with keeping track of where you have been.

Read the label to confirm the product is labeled for pasture use and then follow the instructions. Different herbicides will have different instructions and the label is the law for that product.

2) Fences: A warm day in January or February is a great time to get out and work on your fences. Dead vegetation reveals problems that may stay hidden in green grass and tall weeds.

Fixing fences now, especially on those sections that will have animals turned out on them in the spring, will save you from rushing around in the spring to make temporary fixes that will get you by until you have more time.

Do not forget to look for broken and cracked electric insulators and shorts that reduce the effectiveness of electric fences.

3) Water sources: One of the greatest limitations to efficient pasture utilization is the proximity to water. Look at your pasture layout and think about ways water sources could be added to reduce the distance to water or allow you to add additional sections within your pasture.

Can a spring be developed, a waterline added, or a stream or pond be adapted as a water source?

4) Soil testing: Pastures are often overlooked when we do soil testing. Just like your other crops, nutrients are removed from the soil when plants grow and are eaten by animals.

Some, but not all, of these nutrients are returned to the soil in manure and urine. Often, the problem is nutrients are not evenly spread across the pasture. Pasture lots should be designed to help spread the manure evenly by reducing congregation areas and moving animals frequently.

Do not forget to pay attention to pH, as this can be a limiting factor. Fescue may grow well at 5.5 pH while clover and alfalfa will not.

An application of lime may make a big difference in productivity.

5) Frost seeding: Look into the benefits of frost seeding additional legumes into your pastures. Often pastures do not contain as much legume as you think. Legumes should be 30-40 percent of the dry matter weight in the pasture if you want to fully utilize the nitrogen fixing capacity and eliminate the need to add nitrogen fertilizer.

Estimating the amount of clover in a pasture on a dry matter basis can be deceiving. The broad flat leaves that have a high moisture content can be misleading when looking at dry matter content.

The time to frost seed is approaching soon, so now is the time to order your seed.

I hope that you can find an item or two in this “5 Things” list that will improve the utilization of your pastures in 2018.

Food Label Lingo


By: Carol Hamilton  an Extension Educator (Delaware County)

Each time you enter a supermarket, you are faced with nearly 40,000 products to choose from[1]. Each product brightly colored, strategically placed and wordsmithed perfectly to convince you not to leave the store without it. So, how as consumers can we decipher all the information food packages provide and use it to make better purchasing decisions for our families? We have to learn the food label lingo. First, it is important to recognize that all food products have five standard components regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Reading food labelsAll food products have five standard components regulated by the FDA.

  1. Product Identity (product name that accurately describes the package contents)
  2. Net Content (product quantity or weight)
  3. Nutrition facts
  4. Ingredients/ allergen statement
  5. Signature Line (including company name and address of the manufacturer or distributor)

But most packages contain a slew of additional information that highlights anything from farm practices, to health benefits, to social and economic practices. There are three possible origins of food label claims and statements, 1) government agencies like the USDA and FDA; 2) third-party organizations like American Grassfed®, Non-GMO Project Verified, Fair Trade Certified, and Certified Angus Beef®; and 3) food manufacturers or producers.

Government issued labels were created to: ensure fair competition among producers, provide consumers with basic product information, and most importantly to reduce health and safety risks[2]. Government labels always have the agency from which the standards originate listed, for example USDA organic or Dolphin Safe, United States Department of Commerce. Government standards and record of companies holding their certifications can be accessed online or by contacting the respective agency.Dolphin Safe Seal

Third-party labels were created to enhance the intelligibility and credibility of certain food attributes through the use of standards, verification, certification, and enforcement[2]. Each organization is responsible for determining their own set of standards that producers must follow to use their trademarked seal. Third-party labels can vary from very strict standards that require yearly audits to very loose standards that are more like a subscription with no verification process. I encourage consumers to do additional research on labels they think align with their values to ensure they match.

Lastly, producers and manufacturers create a number of food label claims and statements to entice consumers. A few of the more current statements include: natural, 100% pure, all, made with real fruit, made with whole grains, lightly-sweetened, a good source of fiber, local, and strengthens your immune system[3]. Be wary of these statements because they are unregulated and defined entirely by the manufacturer.

To learn more, visit my website Understanding Food Labels. Here you will find hundreds of food labels, videos and educational resources that can be used in Extension program efforts.


[1] Food Marketing Institute. (2017, November 13). Supermarket Facts. Retrieved 2017, from

[2] Golan, E., Kuchler, F., & Mitchell, L. (2000). Economics of Food Labeling. Washington: Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved from

[3] Silverglade, B., & Heller, I. R. (2010). Food Labeling Chaos. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest. Retrieved from

4-H Kickoff

Refer to the flyer below for the dates and times of our FIVE scheduled 2018 4-H Volunteer Kickoffs.  Please make plans to attend one of these mandatory sessions to remain a volunteer in good standing

2018 Knox County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Classes

2018 Knox County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Classes

Beginners Beekeeping Class 1 Beginner Beekeeping Class 2
Date: February 10, 2018 Date: February 24, 2018
Cost: $45 per person Cost: $45 per person 
*Lunch will be provided *Lunch will be provided
*Book included: “First Lessons in Beekeeping” *KCBA Advanced Manual included
*Free membership to Knox County Beekeepers Association
*Free one-year membership to the Ohio State Beekeepers Association

Classes Location: Hunter Hall, 211 South Main St., Mt. Vernon, OH 43050
Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Hunter Hall and The location of the Happy Bean Coffee Shop
PLEASE REGISTER BY: February 5, 2018 to Jeff Gabric: 515-450-1359
Students are free but must register.

Beginners Beekeeping Class ONE                                                  Beginner Beekeeping Class TWO
February 10th, 2018                                                                             February 24th, 2018
8:00 to 9:00 Registration Coffee and Donuts                                       Registration Coffee And Donuts
9:00 – 9:15       So You Want to Become a Beekeeper?                        Hive Inspections
9:15 – 9:45       What You Need to Get Started                                        Hive Management       
9:45 – 10:00     Hive Parts and Accessories                                           Over-Wintering Bees
10:00 -10:15    Break                                                                                Break
10:15 -10:45    Where to Get Bees                                                              Honey Bee Biology
10:45 -11:00    How to Install Bees                                                            Dealing with Varroa Mites and SHB
11:00 -11:30    How to Begin Working with Bees                                Re-queening a Colony
11:30 -12:30    Lunch                                                                                 Lunch
12:30 -12:45    Choosing a Location.                                                        Making Increases and Nucs
12:45 -1:00      Sources of Bees                                                                   Swarm Prevention
1:00 – 1:30      Honey Bee Biology                                                             Honey Production       
1:30 – 1:45      Break                                                                                  Break
1:45- 2:45        Now What? Putting it all Together                              Laying Workers and Merging
2:45 – 3:00       Round-table discussion                                                 Feeding Bees


2018 Southern Ohio Specialty Crop Conference

Southern Ohio Specialty Crop Conference, February 6, 2017

This is an excellent conference for specialty crop growers. We have held a grower school in Southwest Ohio for over 30 years, but a few years ago we changed the location and expanded the course offering. There are 25 different class options to choose from and private pesticide re-certification credits are available for core, 3 and 5. Fertilizer re-certification credits are also available. The conference web page is The cost is $50 and includes a continental breakfast, a buffet lunch and a USB memory stick with all of the available conference handouts. Registration closes February 4th.

Reminder – Required Dicamba Training Tomorrow Night!


Following a summer of many instances of off-target movement of dicamba across the country from use in Xtend soybeans, the labels for Engenia, XtendiMax, and FeXapan were modified in an attempt to reduce future problems. These products became restricted use pesticides, and an additional requirement is that anyone applying these products must attend annual dicamba or group 4 herbicide-specific training, and have proof that they did so. Details are still being worked out on this training for Ohio, but it will not be conducted by OSU Extension, or accomplished through OSU winter agronomy or pesticide recertification meetings.

The flyer below contains information on a Knox County Dicamba training meeting sponsored by the Knox County Agrology Club and Danville Feed & Supply.