Mastitis

Mastitis is an infection in the mammary tissue of lactating and non-lactating does.  It can happen after does are dried off, during pregnancy, or any other time.  There is no life stage that excludes mastitis in a female goat.

Symptoms of Mastitis

  • Clots in milk
  • Blood in milk*
  • Swollen udder
  • Hard udder
  • Udder is hot to touch
  • Fever
  • Discomfort while milking

*Blood in milk is not by itself an indicator of mastitis, especially in early lactation, where it is almost always a result of building the udder.  The rapid expansion of udder tissue can result in broken capillaries and pink or bloody milk.  This is not uncommon in heavy producers or in goats who are separated from kids and have very full udders.

Milk can sometimes be clumpy without the presence of mastitis.  I try to look for multiple symptoms and ask my intuition when looking at a doe with suspected mastitis.

You can easily test for mastitis using a California Mastitis Test, readily available at many online suppliers, such as Jeffers or Valley Vet Supply.  This is an inexpensive kit that will last so it’s worth having on hand if you have female goats.

My Approach

I began removing goats from my breeding program if they developed mastitis.  I have not had a case in probably close to a decade.  If I did, I would mix up a topical application with the following ingredients:

  • 1 part DMSO (applied to clean area with clean hands, read more here)
  • 1 part colloidal silver
  • peppermint essential oil at a maximum dilution rate of 0.5%

Internally, I would dose oregano essential oil at the acute dosage rate.  While treatment is ongoing, the doe would be milked completely out 2x daily and milk tossed.  Kids who are nursing can continue nursing.  I want to add here that there is some debate over whether or not feeding infected milk to doe kids can increase the risk of mastitis when the doe kid freshens.  I have looked, and looked, and looked, and I cannot find any definitive answer for this.  Take a look at the research and data I’ve been compiling through this search in the mastitis forum.  My conclusion is that there is not a clear connection between mastitis infected milk and subsequent mastitis and that the cause is still not definitively proven.  With that said, I made it a policy early on in my own herd to remove from my breeding program any doe that developed mastitis.  I only had to do that one time, it’s not been particularly common, but we have not had a case in years.

Any immune supporting herbs can be used during treatment as well.  Some of my top favorites include garlic, yarrow, echinacea, nettle, goldenseal and usnea.  These can be given in tea or drench (I prefer drenches with powdered herbs for ease of administering).

Other Treatment Options

In the goat group, Abbie Lee commented:

“I just cleared mastitis (positive CMT, chunky milk)
Vit C powder on feed,
3 drops oregano oil in 5ml olive oil orally 3x a day
Colloidal silver on udder, followed by dynamint udder cream followed by DSMO 3x a day
Milked out completely 3x a day”

You can purchase a commercial homeopathic product called Mastoblast to administer orally.

Continue all treatments until 2-3 days past last symptoms.  Mastitis can be recurring, so being intentional about excellent nutrition and immune boosting before kidding next time can help ward off a future case.

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2 Comments

  1. Anecdotes are always interesting to me (especially what worked vs what didn’t) I hope mine will help someone.

    Had doe, third freshener, with suspected mastitis. Normally is a huge producer and was hardly making any milk after kidding, one side of the udder was lumpy, and there were sores on the surface. I started treating with what I had on hand, using a colloidal silver wash 2x day to start with, with ~8 mL dose 2x per day of a oregano/sweet orange/lemongrass oil blend for about a week with no improvement. Tried adding in a coconut oil/lemongrass oil balm with some initial improvement but that stalled out.

    Finally found this article and followed the instructions under “My Approach”. Saw immediate, significant improvement. After a week all of the sores were well on their way to healing and the udder was significantly less bumpy. Milk production was up to more what I expected as well. Stopped treatment, and a week later her udder is still improving: sores are hardly visible anymore and the lumps are basically gone.

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