As consumers become more conscious about the quality of what they eat, antibiotic use in food animals has been targeted.
According to the International Dairy Federation, or IDF, 85 percent of antibiotics in dairy herds have been used to treat mastitis — that is, infection of a cow’s udder or mammary gland. The good news is that most member countries of the IDF have seen a large drop in cases of clinical mastitis over the last decade.
Improvement in the management of dairy herds is one reason. Another is the selective treatment of certain cows during the nonmilk-producing period of their cycle. IDF research teams are looking at ways of detecting mastitis that hasn’t yet reached a clinical threshold. If these subclinical infections can be treated, antibiotic use in dairy cows can become more focused — and decrease, in the process.