Mastitis Information

March 27th, 2011


There are different types of mastitis,

Udder or intramammary infection is the presence of microorganisms that multiply in the udder. Infections may be clinical or subclinical, depending on the degree of inflammation. At times, there is some confusion during discussions about mastitis because different meanings are applied to the same term. Therefore, the following definitions are presented.

Subclinical mastitis is a form of the disease in which there is no detectable change in the udder and no observable abnormalities in milk. However, the presence of microorganisms in milk usually can be demonstrated by microbiological culture, and inflammatory changes in the milk can be detected by special tests, such as conducting a somatic cell count.

Subacute clinical mastitis is a condition in which abnormalities of the udder and secretion are readily observable. This form of mastitis can vary in severity, depending in part, on the microorganism causing the infection. Changes in the milk, such as flakes, clots, and a watery appearance are the most obvious abnormalities. Heat, swelling, and udder sensitivity are slight or absent.

Acute mastitis is a condition characterized by sudden onset, redness, swelling, hardness, pain, grossly abnormal milk, and reduced milk yield. Systemic symptoms may also be present and include fever, loss of appetite, reduced rumen function, rapid pulse, dehydration, weakness, and depression. When the disease onset is very rapid and the signs are very severe, the disease is termed peracute mastitis.

Chronic mastitis is an udder infection that is of long duration. Chronic mastitis may remain in a subclinical phase indefinitely, or the infection may alternate between subclinical and clinical phases; at times, clinical signs may persist for long periods.

Nonbacterial mastitis is a mammary inflammation that occurs when microorganisms cannot be isolated from milk samples. Such cases may be either clinical or subclinical.

Treating Mastitis can vary from breeder to breeder but usually requires antibiotics and sometimes teat infusions of medications to apply into the treat and worked up into the udder-The common choice for a doe in milk is a product called “Today” (dry does would use a product called “Tomorrow”)
This is made for cows and comes in a tube much like a plastic syringe ready with a cannula tip to place into the teat opening. This can also be found at feed stores or at  online vet supply houses. Because it is made for cows there is actually too much medication in one tube for a goat- so use half of the contents- and because you cannot properly clean the inside of the tip- rather than to “reintroduce” the infection into the teat- breeders throw away the second half of the tube contents and treat with a new tube  each time.  Never use the second half of the tube  in either the same side of the udder or the other die as this will  reinfect the udder.

Before you infuse the teat, the udder half should be thoroughly cleaned and dried and milked out as completely as possible and the milk thrown away.  Apply the tip of the cannula just inside the teat opening or at least right up to it before applying the medication.  Pinching the teat end with one hand, press the plunger and make sure the meds are going into the teat. Now pinch the teat end shut, and strip the meds up into the teat and up into the udder as far as you can.  The treated side should be massaged after treating to work the medication as far up into the udder as possible- holding the tip of the teat closed after application and during massage.

Udder Balm can be applied to the outside of the udder to make massaging more comfortable for the doe. Warm towels can also be applied to the udder before massage to help break up any congestion. Make sure you clean the teat with alcohol before and after applying the teat infusion. This treatment should be applied twice a day for at least 3 days – some breeders treat for 5 days depending on the severity of the case. At the same time, an antibiotic should be used  as an injection twice a day-  either Penicillin Procane G  or Bio-Mycin, either of them used at the rate of 1cc/25lbs is what is the common dose. (If you use PennG Please remember to draw back on the syringe plunger before you inject as this can be a fatal situation if gotten into the blood stream. ) One other choice is to get a teat cannula (also found at some feed stores or supply houses) and use a regular syringe for injections, using the cannula in place of the needle and infuse the teat with PennG, the same way as you would use  the Today or Tomorrow medication which is what people did before these products were available.

Injections should  be given for at least 5 days- twice daily 12 hours apart.

Breeders  choose both ways of dealing with mastitis- I have heard  that some allow the kids to continue nursing and those who take the kids off  the dam- I have only had one case of mastitis  years ago and while I was treating the one side of the udder the kids “chose ” to drink only from the unaffected side – but I only had twins. You may want to supplement the kids while treating. One more thing to note: Once a doe does have clinical mastitis she will more than likely get it back each time she freshens.

All of this being said- you mentioned (red streamers in her milk.) I am not sure if this means  some red in the milk or actual strings of milk(being that the milk itself is odd) with red in it- but to be more sure of what you are dealing with I would recommend testing her yourself or possibly taking a milk sample to your vet for testing.
A slight bit of occasional blood in the milk very well could be the baby goats  (being 4 of them) could be as simple as that they are aggressively nursing and  as I said before – breaking a small vessel in the teat   but to be safe I would test her for mastitis and act accordingly.



Staphylococcus aureus:

The most common type of mastitis in sheep. Common in cattle. Not as common in goats as Streptococcus agalactiae. This is one of the most dangerous types of mastitis, also known as gangrenous mastitis. This organism is widespread throughout the environment, with various strains causing life-threatening illnesses in people. (These are not caught from goats that we know of.) The skin of the teat becomes cold, blue and sloughs (hence the old name of “blue bag”). The whole infected quarter may slough. There is a good chance that the doe may go off feed completely. She may stand with her back legs quite far apart. There will be watery, blood-stained, smelly milk which later changes to thick, yellow ropy stuff. Death can be quite sudden. You should isolate the doe right away. The kids should probably be pulled and bottle fed or grafted onto other does. If she is close to drying off, this should be done following the appropriate treatment with benzathine cloxacillin. These organisms are penicillin resistant, so use erythromycin or chlortetracycline systemically. If you think that she cannot be dried up at this point, it may be best to seek help from your veterinarian in deciding on an ongoing treatment program.

Streptococcus agalactiae

Probably the most common source of mastitis in goats. The organism enters through the teat opening, so it is easy to see the importance of prevention. Fortunately, this is not usually a real dangerous disease in goats. And, equally fortunate, you don’t have to wait until dry up to treat. The milk will be watery and possibly have some yellowish clots. There is probably a reduction in milk supply. The udder will feel warm and the doe may or may run a fever. She will probably show a reduced appetite. The disease may range from mild to serious and is rather hard to differential from congestion as above without using the CMT. An infusion of penicillin (into the udder) will usually take care of the problem. Commercially prepared tubes of penicillin which come with a longer and narrower point for insertion into the teat are available from most suppliers. Also available are products: “Today”® and “Tomorrow”® for currently milking and dry drying up. These are easier and safer to use than regular syringes. (Be sure to use extreme sanitation!) You can also give penicillin shots if you’d like. If you find that Penicillin is not effective after 3 or 4 days, switch to LA200® and if that doesn’t work, try Tylan200®.

E. coli

This is usually a fairly serious illness. There is frequently a temperature ranging from 103° – 108°. It produces dangerous toxins as part of the inflammatory process. E. coli infections frequently occur right after freshening as the udder starts to fill. Milk production ceases. Anorexia (loss of appetite) is fairly complete. Other symptoms include depression, dehydration, weight loss. Secretion from the udder is brownish and watery. This type of mastitis is can be accompanied by diarrhea. Treatment is penicillin infusions and injections. Although this is a serious illness, upon recovery the udder usually returns to normal. But even if the affected quarters dry up, the udder will be normal at the next lactation.

Corynebacterium pyogenes

This organism is responsible for a multitude of diseases in farm animals. It is constantly lurking around waiting for an opportunity to strike. Thus, it is known as a secondary invader when it comes to mastitis and this type is fairly common in goats. There is a foul-smelling pus-like discharge that can occur even in does that are not in milk. There may be actual abscesses visible. It is felt that dirty bedding and the presence of flies contributes to its spread. In this type the udder may not return to production after infection. Treatment is penicillin and not very optimistic.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa

A persistent disease that shows intermittent episodes of visible signs of mastitis. If often follows infusions that are not done antiseptically. It may lead to toxemia and death. It is very hard to treat and may persist through the drying off period. Is occurs mostly in cattle and rarely in goats. Either check with your vet of get rid of the animal.

Nocardia asteroides

This is a very dangerous disease. The is a sudden, acute onset with high fever, complete loss of appetite, rapid wasting away of the doe, marked swelling of the udder. There will be tissue fibers in the milk and nodules that can be felt. This type may also follow unsanitary infusions. Although you can try penicillin or a consultation with your vet, most sources recommend slaughter.

Yeast Infections

Any infection that survives or occurs after treatment with penicillin can be the result of the development of opportunistic yeast invasion. The doe will have a high temperature. There may be a spontaneous recovery or it may end up as a chronic destructive process. Treatment of this problem is very complicated and for the novice as about s dangerous as the disease. It should serve as a reminder that the over zealous use of penicillin can lead to yeast infections.


There are a large number of species of mycoplasma organisms which can cause mastitis in goats. Both quarters will be seriously affected and will be hot and swollen. There will be a dramatic loss of milk production followed by serous or purulent (pus) discharge. In goats, the disease is highly transmissible. In one of the more common types painful, arthritic joints will be readily observable. There will usually be fever and loss of appetite. The milk will be thick and yellow and separate on standing, oftentimes with flaky sediments. In another type, the milk may be greenish and there will be symptoms of the central nervous system and pneumonia. In another type, the milk will have a putrid odor.
Mycoplasmal mastitis can be spread to the young through the milk. The kids may show pneumonia and/or arthritis and may even die. Other symptoms can include limping, hunched back, blindness, obvious pain or discomfort, anorexia, death. If you suspect this type of mastitis, the kids should be pulled and either fed off other does or given pasteurized milk. There is some chance that tetracyclines or Tylan® can cure, but the outcome is not optimistic. Careful consideration should be given to elimination from the breeding herd.


Treatment Recommendations

With OTC choices, I would go with LA200 (oxytetracycline).  6ccs/100lbs.

It would be a lot easier to treat if the kid was pulled and bottle fed…. In that case, I would massage her udder really well, using some peppermint oil mixed with another oil (canola, olive, etc) as it will help break up the congestion – and you don’t want to use the peppermint oil undiluted as it is too strong.  You can also put warm compresses on the udder after you have massaged in the oil (just washclothes dipped in really warm water).

Then infuse with Today or Tomorrow (Tomorrow is stronger, and would be my personal choice).

Repeat in the evening.  Do this for 3 days – 6 tubes of Today/Tomorrow.
Continue antibiotics for 5 days total.
Provide support care – Probiotics (probios) to help replenish intestinal flora which is being killed by the antibiotics and also 4ccs of Fortified b-complex each day.

When you do the infusion, use very good antiseptic technique.  Wipe the teat end with an alcohol wipe (usually provided with the Today/Tomorrow, but if it isn’t, use a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol) and then just barely set the tip of the tube at the entrance of the teat.  Just enough so the contents of the Tomorrow goes in when you depress the plunger.

HTH – and welcome to the forum.  Camille

Mastitis Prevention,705.20.html


The white blood cells in milk, together with a relatively small number of epithelial cells from milk-secreting tissues, are known as somatic cells. These cells are an important part of the goat’s natural defense mechanism. When udder tissue is injured or becomes infected, significant numbers of white blood cells accumulate in the milk. Normal goat milk has a higher cell count than normal milk from cows. This has long been a concern of goat owners because of regulatory standards and marketing problems. Current Grade A standards require that milk contain no more than 1,000,000 cells/ml. The SCC limit will be lowered to 750,000/ml for cow milk as of July 1, 1993. Despite this reduction for cow milk, regulatory standards for goat milk will remain at 1,000,000/ml. This is because somatic cell counts in goat milk may easily approach 750,000/ml and still be normal.  (

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