Milk stone disease of cows

Many owners of cattle and dairy farm workers are aware of the situation when, during milking, a small solid object of a rounded shape is felt in the cavity of the nipple of a cow, which freely moves along the milk tank and, periodically falling into the opening of the nipple, blocks its lumen, not passing milk. Such a formation is a milk stone. Milk stones are formed from calcium and phosphorus salts, settling on clots of milk protein – casein.
There may be several reasons for their formation. Most often, this is incomplete pumping of milk for a long time, a hasty start of a cow, various inflammatory processes in the tissues of the udder of various etiologies, or a violation of the normal metabolic process.
The process of stone formation begins in the alveoli of the glandular tissue, where mineral salts are layered on the protein flakes and form very small flakes and grains of different densities. During this period, small areas of hardening appear inside the udder, and there may be a slight increase in its volume without any signs of mastitis (except in cases where it was mastitis that caused the onset of the stone formation process). The quality of milk in most cases also remains the same. Only sometimes you can notice a slight decrease in its fat content and quantity while maintaining the same level and quality of feeding.
Gradually, the size and density of the grains increase, causing discomfort in the animal, which can be seen from a change in the behavior of the cow: she periodically stamps her foot, tries to reach the affected areas with her muzzle and lick them, hums softly and drawlingly, looks back at the udder. At this stage, udder massage (before and after each milking, from top to bottom), as well as subcutaneous or intramuscular administration of oxytocin at a dose of 30-35 IU per medium-sized animal (if the cow is pregnant) or, depending on weight, will help stop the development of the disease. , 45-60 IU (if she is not pregnant). The drug should be administered 10–15 minutes before milking, within 4–5 days.
What is the principle of action of this remedy? As already mentioned, the beginning of the formation of a milk stone occurs in the alveolar cavity, where milk is produced. Oxytocin, administered by injection, entering the bloodstream, stimulates the contraction of myoepithelial cells around the alveoli of the mammary glands and, thereby, as it were, squeezes milk from the alveoli into the milk ducts under greater pressure than occurs with the natural release of oxytocin. (At each milking, it is always secreted reflexively by the posterior pituitary gland of the cow, which is why the process of milk transfer occurs). Coming out of the glandular tissue into the milk tank, small particles of the milk stone freely leave the nipple along with the milk.
Massage of the udder before milking serves as a stimulus for the release of natural oxytocin, besides, the mechanical action promotes the release of microscopic particles of milk stones at the initial stages of their formation from the alveoli and the subsequent expression of these particles along with milk. Also, massage (from top to bottom) will help eliminate blockage (complete or partial) with small milk stones migrating from the alveoli, milk ducts in the thickness of the udder tissues.
Regular mechanical action promotes the movement of milk sand through the milk passages and its evacuation into the milk tank, where it is less dangerous to the health of the udder. But since the first symptoms of the disease often go unnoticed or misunderstood by the owners (attendants), no measures are usually taken at the initial stages of the development of milk stone disease. Mineral salts continue to layer on small flakes.
Строение вымени коровы
As the size increases, the grains of the milk stone, picked up by the flow of milk, enter the milk tank through the milk passages and either settle there, or, due to their still small diameter, are expressed along with the milk. In this case, on the tissue through which the milk is filtered, one can notice small, sand-sized, light-colored particles of various densities. Some of them can be hard, and some have the consistency of dry clay and crumble when pressed with fingers.
In most cases, the owners do not take any measures, since this condition does not cause any special problems for the animal. Often the disease is limited to this stage and can remain at this level for quite a long time. Problems are exacerbated when some of the milk stones increase significantly in size. At first, these formations are clearly palpable through the skin of the nipple during manual milking. But then they clog the nipple opening and prevent milking, causing secondary disorders – mastitis, injuries of the milk ducts and sphincter, injuries and narrowing of the milk canal, etc. It becomes impossible to ignore the development of the disease in this phase.
Молочные камни
This problem becomes especially acute with machine milking, since it is impossible to control the localization of the stone in the teat with this method of milking. Signs of the appearance of stones are difficult outflow of milk or the inability to milk one quarter of the udder (or several). As a consequence, mastitis often develops as a result of incomplete milking.
Treatment should begin with the urgent release of the affected part of the udder from milk, for which manual pumping is carried out (as far as possible). In the case of a complete lack of patency, a special milk catheter is used. The catheter can be metal or plastic. In the treatment of difficult cases, when even inserting a catheter into the nipple is a problem, it is convenient to use indwelling milk catheters with plugs.
Молочный катетер
The catheter must be lubricated with sterile petroleum jelly, streptocid ointment or similar before use. After its introduction, the milk flows freely from the udder, but the process can be accelerated by gentle pressure on the udder with your fingers, as is done with conventional hand milking. After complete pumping, 25–30 ml of a previously prepared 3% solution of ordinary baking soda should be injected through the same catheter into the nipple cavity.
Постоянный молочный катетер
To prepare a solution for the treatment of one quarter, you will need 0.9 g of dry baking soda and 29.1 ml of warm (+35..37 ° C) boiled water. (In practical use, it is more convenient to prepare a larger volume: 3 g of soda is dissolved in 97 ml of water.) Using a syringe (through a milk catheter), the required dose of the resulting solution is injected into the milk tank.
Сода пищевая
If the catheter is permanent, then after the injection it is closed with a plug, and if it is normal, then it is removed and the sphincter is gently pressed with your fingers for a few seconds to prevent the soda solution from flowing out. Next, the sphincter itself will keep the opening of the nipple closed. During the stay of the soda solution in the milk tank, it is recommended, holding the nipple with your hand, periodically make movements with your fingers opposite to the milking ones, so that the solution penetrates from the lower part of the nipple above. Soda solution dissolves milk stones, makes them softer, smaller and prepares for crushing.
After 10–15 minutes, the working solution is removed. After two to five such procedures, some of the small pebbles-grains of sand will dissolve or decrease so much that they can pass through the lumen of the sphincter on their own. Larger grains of sand (the size of a millet grain) can be carefully pushed through the hole during the next manual milking. The older the cow and the larger the teat opening (usually 2 mm to 4 mm in diameter), the greater the chance of success. A slow cow (with a small hole diameter) is much more difficult to help.
After 10–15 minutes, the working solution is removed. After two to five such procedures, some of the small pebbles-grains of sand will dissolve or decrease so much that they can pass through the lumen of the sphincter on their own. Larger grains of sand (the size of a millet grain) can be carefully pushed through the hole during the next manual milking. The older the cow and the larger the teat opening (usually 2 mm to 4 mm in diameter), the greater the chance of success. A slow cow (with a small hole diameter) is much more difficult to help.

If it is not possible to crush the stone, then soda injections continue for several more days, and then try again. Also, to facilitate the passage of stones through the teat canal, you can expand it. This is done using a special tool known as Osetrov’s bougie. Very dense stones that are not removed either under the influence of soda or after bougienage are removed from the udder surgically or by crushing with ultrasound. But both methods require qualified veterinary training, therefore, they cannot be independently performed by an ordinary cow owner.

Timely treatment of milk stone disease in most cases brings the desired result, but in some situations not all animals can be helped.
Milk stones can form not only in cows, but also in goats. The causes of the disease, its course and methods of treatment practically do not differ from those described above.
If the owners of the cow show attention and care for the animal, then in the event of a milk stone disease, they manage to give milk from the affected quarter in time, and the difficult outflow of milk, as a rule, does not provoke the development of a secondary disease – mastitis. But if it so happened that mastitis nevertheless arose, then in parallel with the treatment of milk stone disease, mastitis should also be treated. You should not hope that after the removal of milk stones, mastitis will disappear by itself. In this case, the elimination of the cause does not lead to the elimination of the consequences. Mastitis requires separate treatment.
In addition to mastitis, another common concomitant disease of milk stone disease is the narrowing of the milk canal and thickening of the nipple wall. This complication becomes noticeable from the moment when milk stones begin to block the hole of the juice and prevent milking, and the milkmaid tries to roughly squeeze them out. In this case, as a rule, the mucous membrane of the inner surface of the nipple wall and the canal (the walls of the hole itself) are injured. As a result, their inflammation, edema and hypertonicity of the sphincter occur, which makes the nipple canal very narrow, and the outflow of milk is even more difficult.
In case of chronic or one-time, but severe injury and wounds, the canal can grow completely or partially. Helping an animal can be difficult, but possible. To relieve inflammation and swelling of the inner surface of the wall of the nipple and canal, you can use a solution of any antibiotic (“Penicillin” or “Streptomycin sulfate” helps well and is inexpensive). One bottle should be dissolved in 15–20 ml of warm boiled water and, after complete pumping, inserted into the nipple cavity through a milk catheter. Outside, the nipple should be lubricated with the Traumeel medicine or make a compress from pharmaceutical magnesia (magnesium sulfate 25% in ampoules).
Магния сульфат
If the medical method did not give a tangible effect, then you can expand the narrowed or partially overgrown nipple canal with the help of Osetrov’s bougie. This is a set of small metal or plastic rods of different diameters, from 1 mm to 5 mm. Each subsequent bougie is 0.5 mm thicker than the previous one.
The procedure for expanding the nipple canal is carried out as follows. The bougie is pre-sterilized and lubricated with either sterile petroleum jelly or streptocid ointment. The prepared bougie, approximately equal to the diameter of the hole, is inserted into the nipple canal for 3-4 minutes, after which it is replaced with the next one in size, 0.5 mm larger. After 3–4 minutes, when the hole adapts to it, it is replaced with another one, the diameter of which exceeds the diameter of the previous bougie by 0.5 mm. And so on.
How far the canal can be expanded in the first session depends on the initial size of the teat canal and on the ability of the tissues to adapt to the introduced bougie. Usually, if the channel size is about 1 mm, then it is possible to expand it to 2-2.5 mm. In the case of the initial size of 1.5 mm, the opening of the nipple can be increased to 2.5–3 mm.
The penultimate bougie is left in the nipple opening for 5-7 minutes, and the last one – for 25-30 minutes. Then you should take a break for 3-4 days, and repeat the procedure. Treatment is continued until the hole easily passes a 3.5–4 mm bougie without prior preparation. (This is the teat canal diameter of a light milking cow). In the same way, you can prepare a channel for removing milk stones.
If your cow has a problem with milk stones, then after a successful solution, due attention should be paid to the prevention of this disease in the future. Prevention includes a whole range of mandatory measures.

First, you need to correctly compose a diet for feeding livestock, avoiding either a deficiency or an excess of minerals and vitamins in it. At the same time, the diet should contain the optimal ratio of the main micro- and macroelements, corresponding to the physiological state of the cow and the technological period of its productivity. So, for example, during the lactation period of an animal, the ratio of calcium to phosphorus in the diet should be 1.5 … 2 to 1, and in the dry period – 0.8..1.5 to 1.

Second, the introduction of pregnant cows should be carried out without haste, constantly monitoring the condition of the udder and reducing the level of milk yield. This is especially important to take into account when making a decision to reduce the frequency of daily milking.
Third, avoid incomplete milking of cows at any stage of lactation, be it the first days after calving, milking or starting. And for this it is necessary to ensure the serviceability and specified performance of the milking equipment, as well as to control the conscientious performance of the work of milkmaids.
Лопатка для экспресс-тестов
Fourth, regularly check milking stock for latent and clinical mastitis with a frequency of 7-10 days by conducting rapid tests of milk samples. If inflammation of the udder is detected, sick animals must be treated in a timely manner.
With the observance of the requirements of zoohygiene, the correct maintenance and operation of milking animals, milk stone disease occurs very rarely.
Have a successful livestock farming!

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