Managing Mastitis in Lactating Goats in the Gulf Coast

Mastitis is a common condition in lactating goats.  Mastitis occurs when there is inflammation of the udder tissue, usually due to bacterial infection. The two bacteria that cause contagious mastitis are Staph aureus and Streptococcus agalactia.  Mastitis caused by environmental conditions, otherwise known as Coliform mastitis, is caused by organisms entering the mammary gland from outside of the milking barn, usually due to unclean environmental conditions. Bacteria types include E-coli and Klebsiella. This type of infection can spread throughout the entire body causing illness and sometimes, death. Common symptoms of mastitis include swelling, redness, heat, pain, and usually abnormal milk production..  It can be painful for goats and concerning for their owner. 

Addressing it promptly is critical to ensuring the health of the goat and her kids. Vaccination of cows has proven helpful and is starting to be used in goats. Vaccines are given during the goats dry period and as soon as possible after kidding. Calling us in for severe infections, or vaccines as preventative, may be necessary and we are here should you need us.


Like so many illnesses, and whenever possible prevention is key.  Mastitis is no exception to that, especially in our hot humid environment in the Gulf Coast where our animals are so susceptible. Ensure a clean and dry environment is available for your goats and their kids at all times.  If running a goat milk operation (see milking) regularly clean the udder and teats of your goats to remove any dirt or bacteria that could potentially lead to infection.

Nutrition and Bedding

Maintaining proper nutrition is essential for your goat's health and immune function. Ensure your goats have access to clean water and a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals. Supplementing with vitamin C and probiotics may also help support immune function and promote recovery from mastitis.

 When dairy animals lie down, their udders are on the floor or ground. It is crucial that this surface be clean, dry, and comfortable. This is especially true in the Gulf Coast where we have frequent rain and a humid environment.  The risk of mastitis increases greatly in moist and unclean environments. Bedding should be cleaned of manure daily and supplemented as needed. Resting areas should be situated in elevated or dry areas wherever possible.

Identify and Treat

To confirm mastitis, obtain a sterile sample of milk and freeze it. You can contact me and I can provide you with a sterile container. Clean the udder well including the teat orifice. Gently squirt 2-3 squirts of milk into the sterile container being careful not to touch the rim or inside of the container with the teat or your hand. Carefully tightly close the container. This milk should be frozen, we can send it off for bacterial culture and sensitivity if our initial antibiotic treatment fails. Culture and sensitivity will tell us the type of bacteria and which antibiotics it will respond to

If you suspect mastitis, your goats udder may be swollen and warm.  Your doe may have a fever not eat and you may see clots or cloudy milk.   In some cases, goats will limp or hold up a hind leg.  If your is showing symptoms of mastitis, a gentle massage combined with warm compresses can help with discomfort and promote milk flow.  Use a clean cloth soaked in warm water and apply it to the affected udder for several minutes before milking. Gently massage the udder to help loosen any clogged ducts and improve circulation.  If the doe does not appear clinically sick and starts improving, stripping the affected half out every 2-3 hours may be all that is needed.  If your doe is not improving after milking, the infection may have spread and you will need antibiotics.  Please contact us in that case.


Prior to milking, dirty udders should be cleaned with dry paper towels or dry cloths.  When possible, avoid using water to clean udders because water will travel down the dirty udder onto the teat, possibly contaminating the teat opening. If you do need to wash the udder, use a disinfectant wash and dry the udder thoroughly afterwards.  To disinfect, dip the teat half way up and ensure that the dip is pooling on the end of the teat . Common products include chlorhexidine or one-percent iodine. If you need a recommendation please reach out to your local feed store or contact us. 

Pre-dips can be sprayed on teats as opposed to the dipping method.  The dipping and cup method seems to be more effective, but the spray will result in a more sanitary environment.  If dip cups are used please discard of them or clean regularly with a disinfectant.  

Leave the pre-dip on for the amount of time specified by the manufacturer—this is often about 30 seconds. After the prescribed time, dry the teat with a clean paper towel or cloth reserved.  

After drying of the disinfectant, milk three or four squirts of milk onto a strip cup. This is a container with a black strainer that helps identify animals with abnormal milk. NEVER check milk by squirting it onto the floor or boot or clothes.  This is a quick way to spread mastitis.

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