A Tipperary student has found a way of identifying a mastitis infection in a dairy cow before the animal’s milk enters the bulk tank.
Jack O’Meara, 17, a fifth-year student at st Joseph’s College, Borrisoleigh, Co Tipperary, said the idea came to him when he got a job milking cows last summer.
He became aware about mastitis, a persistent inflammatory reaction of the udder tissue, and that cows suffering from the disease had an increased somatic cell count, an indicator of the quality of milk.
Jack also discovered mastitis- infected milk had a higher conductivity measure, so the infected milk could be separated using electrical readings.
“I have not developed a device to detect infected milk, but I have completed a proposal on how it would work,” he explained.
Jack looked at three herds to check results were consistent and if any factors, such as water, soil, and food, had an effect on conductivity.
“The device would measure the electric conductivity of milk. At the moment, there is no method of detecting mastitis in the parlour; the milk is sent to creameries for testing.”
Jack has shown how an electric conductivity meter could be fitted between the teat milking cluster and where the milk enters the main line.
“I found that the milk from cows with mastitis has consistently higher readings than that of cows free of the infection.”
Jack said there is no way of detecting individual cows with the infection before the infected milk entered the bulk tank.
“The milk is tested every two to three, days, but it is the entire bulk tank that is tested, so it does not indicate which cow has it.”
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