HC Deb 17 January 1974 vol 867 cc143-4W
Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if he will institute an urgent inquiry into the incidence of mastitis in cattle ; the declining effectiveness of penicillin as a treatment for it ; and if he will make a statement ;

(2) what losses were caused by mastitis in cattle in each of the last three years.

Mrs. Fenner

Mastitis is not a notifiable condition. Estimates of losses caused by it are not available for particular years, but it is considered that losses arising from reductions in the quality and quantity of milk, illness and death of cows, and cost of treatment are about £30 million a year.

Frequent surveys to assess the prevalence of mastitis in the national dairy herd are undertaken by the Ministry in conjunction with various bodies including

Period of Measurement Percentage increase between months
United Kingdom January to November 14.7
Austria January to October 3.5
Belgium January to November 4.6
Denmark January to October 14.7
Finland January to October 11.6
France January to November 10.4
Iceland 1st Quarter to 4th Quarter 34.7
Irish Republic 1 st Quarter to 4th Quarter 7.0
Italy January to November 9.6
Luxembourg January to October 3.3
Netherlands January to November 6.1
Norway January to September 5.0
Portugal January to September 8.2
Sweden January to November 4.9
Switzerland January to October 1.9
West Germany January to October 2.6


National publications.

UN Monthly Bulletin of Statistics.

Department of Employment (UK)

the National Institute for Research in Dairying, the Milk Marketing Board and commercial organisations. A further survey is due to commence shortly of a random selection of dairy herds in England and Wales and will include examination of milk cell counts. Additional inquiries into the incidence of mastitis are not considered necessary.

There is no laboratory evidence that over the past 10 years there has been any change in the degree of resistance to penicillin of the two principal causative agents—staphylococci and streptococci. There are also other effective antibiotics, and the veterinary surgeon can determine the appropriate treatment in each case.

Sub-clinical mastitis which accounts for the biggest proportion of the financial losses is not readily apparent to farmers. The National Mastitis Awareness Campaign was launced in July 1972 with the aim of alerting milk producers and indicating measures which can be taken to control the condition.

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