Hydrated lime has an important role to play on dairy farms over the winter months in the prevention of mastitis cases.

For the majority of farms, the cows are now housed and in some cases they have been housed for a number of weeks.

In a more normal weather year, at this point of the season it would usually be a question of how much longer can cows continue to graze.

But this year, for the most part, still having cows at grass at this point would be almost impossible for some.


The majority of dairy cows will spend the winter months lying in cubicles, which are a potential source of mastitis if not properly managed.

An effective control for mastitis-causing bacteria on these cubicles is lime.

Lime is an effective product to control bacteria on the cubicles as it increases the pH of the cubicle bed surface, which suppresses bacterial growth.

It is recommended that 170g hydrated lime/cubicle is used twice daily during the housed period.

All excess dung, dirt or moisture should be scraped off the cubicles before new lime is applied.

With many cows on farms going to be getting selective dry cow therapy (SDCT), it is important that this is done correctly and hygiene levels are maintained during the dry period.

For farms that have cows dried-off using sealer only, it is important that each of these cows has a cubicle.

Ideally, there should be extra cubicles in a shed, but at the very least each cow should have a cubicle. In a situation where you are short of cubicles, cows that only received sealer should get priority access to them.

Lime can be dangerous so it is important that safety measures are taken to protect yourself, your family or staff that are spreading lime on cubicles.

Gloves and safety glasses should be worn at a bare minimum.


It is also important that you have your scrapers running on a regular basis; excess dung on the floor of the shed can increase the risk of mastitis-causing bacteria.

Some parts of the shed such as corners can often see a build-up of dung. These should be removed regularly.

Using lime is important, but it will not help in a situation with too many other factors, including the number of bacteria in the shed.