Farmers are being invited to trial a new mastitis test to reduce antibiotic use on dairy farms.

The trial will assess whether a new on-farm bacteria test kit is an effective tool to determine the cause of the infection and the need for antibiotics.

Research shows that most mild or moderate mastitis cases cure spontaneously without medication. The test looks to investigate whether the culture test can be practically used to reduce antibiotic use without effecting animal welfare and milk quality.

Innovative Farmers, the not-for-profit network that enables farmer-led research, will connect farmers and their farm vet with researchers at the Royal Veterinary College to take part in the trial.

Liz Bowles, associate director for farming and land use at the Soil Association, said: “We hope this new culture test will allow farmers to identify more easily when an infection is unlikely to benefit from treatment with antibiotics.

"In addition, this farmer-led field lab with Innovative Farmers will help to determine the practicality and impacts of the test in real-life scenarios.

“Mastitis is one of the largest reasons for using antibiotics in dairy farming and the industry is working hard to reduce usage, with significant progress already being made in reducing preventive use in dairy cows during the dry period. However, reducing the use for treatment of clinical mastitis during milking periods remains a challenge for many farmers and it is crucial that possible solutions are tested on real farms.”

The trial will be based in the south and southwest of England and any dairy farmer in the region can take part.

A meeting is being held next week in Alton, Hampshire, on Thursday 6 June for interested farmers and vets to find out more. Contact