Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) has launched a five year mastitis prevention and control implementation plan.
The 2015/20 plan will focus on various activities to contain the disease that is among the major challenges facing the dairy sector worldwide.
Dr Isidore Gafarasi, the director of veterinary and laboratory services at RAB, on Thursday said the high prevalence of the disease in Rwanda calls for sustainable measures to address it.
He said a recent survey involving over 800 cows showed that 41 per cent of our cows suffer from mastitis.
“This affects the milk production as milk produced by a cow suffering from mastitis is rejected at the milk collection centres which lead to huge losses. We therefore, need to have sustainable measures to fight the disease to ensure we produce good quality of milk.”
About the disease
Mastitis is the inflammation of the mammary gland and udder tissue, and is a major endemic disease of dairy cattle. It usually occurs as an immune response to bacterial invasion of the teat canal by variety of bacterial sources and can also occur as a result of chemical, mechanical, or thermal injury to the cow’s udder, according to vets.
Milk-secreting tissues and various ducts throughout the udder can be damaged by bacterial toxins, and sometimes permanent damage to the udder occurs. Severe acute cases can be fatal, but even in cows that recover, there may be consequences for the rest of the lactation period.
Mastitis is often transmitted through contact with the milking machine, and through contaminated hands or other materials.
Practices such as proper milking hygiene, the culling of chronically-infected cows, good housing and effective dairy cattle nutrition are essential in helping to control mastitis, vets say.
Flora Uwera, a dairy farmer in Gicumbi District said veterinary doctors should reach out to farmers to tip them on best practices to ensure the disease is controlled and prevented.
She said, “The best way to prevent the disease is to make sure dairy farmers, know the best practices in handling cows. A few dairy farmers know about the best milking practices. It would be better if more dairy farmers are trained on the best milking practices.”
To ensure the disease is prevented and controlled, the five year prevention and control plan will focus on building capacity of farmers to produce quality milk through the implementation of dairy dynamic management, conducting surveys and surveillance on subclinical animal mastitis, equipping milk collection centres with milk quality testing kits so that they can test milk components and contamination among other measures.