As I write this editorial from my home office, I’m staring out my window at a fresh dusting of snow and nursing a cold. No, you’re not looking at a winter issue. The first day of spring has come and gone here in western Pennsylvania, and we’re still feeling the last clutching of winter.I’m seeing 70ºF days in the forecast and keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll have green grass by the time this issue hits mailboxes.

Gwin emily
Former Editor / Progressive Dairy

I’m also hoping this is my last cold of the season. It could be this year’s particularly long winter or the fact that two of my best buddies are my nieces, who lovingly share everything, including germs. Either way, this season has been one for the record books in the amount of boxes of tissues I’ve gone through.

Every time I start to feel it coming on, I say to whoever will listen, “But I took my Vitamin C!”

In my family, not taking a daily Vitamin C pill not only lowers your immunity but also puts you at risk for a whole round of chastising.

Now I realize that the common cold is much different than battling mastitis on the farm, but since my cold hit as we were working on this issue, I couldn’t help but compare the two. I think a common response from those on a dairy after realizing there’s a mastitis problem is to say, “But we’ve been following the protocols!”


One commonly misunderstood protocol deals with water in the parlor. Though most understand that udders must be clean, some miss that they should also stay dry. Dr. Frank Welcome of New York’s Quality Milk Production Services shares here that using hoses on the parlor deck can cause manure particles to land on cows’ open teats after milking.

I’ve also seen firsthand the use of hoses on hooves as cows exit the parlor. What milkers may not have realized was that the spray was also removing the teat dip they had just applied.

Everyone has a tried-and-true remedy for the common cold. For my grandma, it’s slathering Vicks VapoRub to the soles of her feet (along with the more commonly recognized application areas) and wearing a thick pair of socks to bed.

My sister-in-law now swears by nasal strips. I’ve heard people have had success with Neti Pots and saline solutions, but I haven’t figured out a way to use them that doesn’t immediately make me feel like I’m drowning.

My preferred cure-all is my mom’s homemade chicken broth. It usually takes me a few days to admit that the cold is more than just a tickle in my throat or a stuffy nose, so by the time I request the broth, I’m pretty desperate. It never ceases to amaze me that just two or three mugs of the elixir has me on the road to recovery within hours.

Treating mastitis may feel like the same type of trial-and-error as treating cold symptoms. Click here to read how University of Kentucky’s Michelle Arnold shares the benefits and drawbacks of extended-duration therapy and compares the effectiveness of two products on the market.

Michael Chapel, a veterinarian in New York, points out here that knowing which factors are contributing to mastitis outbreaks leads to better prevention methods. He recommends appointing someone as the dedicated recordkeeper for logging changes at the farm, including modifications in teat dip, protocol changes and environmental conditions.

Often, there are three or four things going wrong at the same time on the farm, he says. Having a historical record of what went wrong and how the team worked to fix it will aid in future decision-making.

If you’ve been battling mastitis on your operation, I hope this issue provides you with a few ideas to implement. If, in exchange, you happen to have a cure-all for the common cold, I’m all ears. Of course, you’ll have to speak up because they’re congested. PD

emily caldwell

Emily Caldwell
East Coast Editor
Progressive Dairyman