MASTITIS treatment and drying off decisions can now be made with the help of an individual cow somatic cell count reading from a handheld device known as the Dairy Health Check reader.

A self contained pipette slide is used to load the reader with a milk sample and results can be displayed on the spot within less than two minutes.

Based on different ways that white blood cells cluster, the device also indicates whether Staph aureus or Strep eberis is the main pathogen.

For definitive diagnoses, Ian Parnell from Dairycentre says farmers should consult their vet practice.

"When drying off, the device enables farmers to identify cows eligible for selective dry cow therapy based on that very day's somatic cell counts in conjunction with recent months' results," he says.

"During lactation, it can aid early diagnosis of mastitis infections in cows that are off colour but before clinical mastitis clots are present in the milk."

Developed in Canada and validated by the University of Guelph, Ontario, it is available to buy from in St Austell, Cornwall.

A ketosis module also using milk samples is under development and expected to be available during 2018. The equipment cost is £1695 +VAT including 72 pipette-slides, or £105 + VAT for additional batches of 72. Pipette-slides are single use.