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Selection factors to consider for mastitis tubes

Summer can be a tough time to manage mastitis, but if you take preventative precautions and treat confirmed cases properly, it doesn't have to be a struggle.

Understanding the different components of mastitis tubes and their labeling can help you select the correct treatment for your infected cows. A good first step is culturing the milk of infected cows so you know which pathogens you are treating. As always, you should consult with your veterinarian before administering any medication to your animals.

When selecting mastitis tubes consider:


The antibiotic is the actual drug that the mastitis tube contains. Some examples of antibiotics are amoxicillin, ampicillin, and penicillin. Knowing the drug in your mastitis tube is helpful, as some herds can become immune or resistant to certain drugs over time.

Bactericidal versus bacteriostatic treatment 

These two terms refer to what the antibiotic does to the bacteria or pathogen. Bactericidal treatments will kill the bacteria; bacteriostatic treatments will slow the bacteria's growth or reproduction. The majority of mastitis tubes on the market are bactericidal.


The spectrum of the tube indicates the range of bacteria an antibiotic will treat. Broad-spectrum tubes will treat a wider range than narrow-spectrum tubes; narrow-spectrum mastitis tubes may be more effective against specific pathogens, especially if you know what pathogens you are treating as a result of culturing milk samples.


The dosage tells you the size and frequency of the antibiotic that should be administered to the cow. The units of size are expressed as an entire tube. Frequency can vary from two tubes in 12 hours to one tube every 24 hours for eight days, and everywhere in between.

Milk and slaughter withholding times

The withholding times for milk and slaughter are important to pay attention to. They indicate how long after the last treatment the antibiotic will remain present in the cow's body. Milk or meat found to contain antibiotic residues will be rejected and not used for food products.

Product indications

The product indications will give you more information about what the mastitis tube is marketed to do. Typically, it will list some common pathogens it treats, the type of mastitis it best treats (subclinical or clinical), and sometimes if it treats strains of bacteria resistant to other antibiotics.

Emily Krekelberg, Extension educator

Related topics: Dairy News Agriculture
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