We offer a full range of bacteriological analyses from individual cow samples to bulk tank analyses, as well as water analysis. We aim to tailor bacteriology to the individual farm, ensuring that we make cost effective use of your investment – we won’t sell you tests you don’t need.

Our individual cow bacteriology exceeds the recommendations of the National Mastitis Council (NMC) and is designed to maximize the opportunity of isolating and identifying the problem pathogens on your farm. Our individual cow bacteriology uses a full range of laboratory tests and a standard 72 hour incubation period to identify causal bacteria and does not make ‘presumptive’ diagnoses.

As with all our services, results are backed by RCVS Recognised Specialist veterinary advice.











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Key facts about our bacteriology services:

  • Individual cow bacteriology and antibiotic sensitivity testing
  • Bulk tank screens and analysis
  • High Bactoscan investigation including differential counts
  • Water analysis (bacteriology only)
  • Techniques exceed the recommendations of the National Mastitis Council
  • Latest techniques including MALDI-TOF-MS typing (unique to the UK)
  • Mycoplasma spp. testing available (14 day minimum turn around time)
  • Results include interpretation and comments by RCVS Recognised Specialist veterinary surgeons
  • Full sampling kits including detailed instructions available on request


Samples that are collected from clinical cases and/or high somatic cell count cows arrive at the lab and are plated out onto different media to enhance recovery of pathogens, particularly E. coli and Streptococcus uberis. Growth of bacterial colonies occurs from 24 hours - but can take as long as 72 hours for some species. Initial diagnosis is made using bench tests before colonies are transferred to MALDI-TOF for definitive diagnosis. Interim reports are made available from 24 hours if required - final reports are sent after 72 hours incubation by email.


Frequently asked questions:

Why should I submit samples for bacteriology?

Sampling cases of clinical mastitis and periodically submitting these for bacteriology testing will give valuable information about the type of bacteria causing infections. This information can be used alongside cell count and mastitis case data to provide insight into appropriate changes required to improve udder health.

Do I have to freeze samples for bacteriology?

If you are collecting samples from clinical cases or high cell count cows, freezing allows the sample to 'keep' for longer, and frozen samples will remain viable for 6 months, allowing batches of samples to be submitted. If you are submitting bulk tank samples or water samples for differential counts, these must NOT be frozen

What about testing for Mycoplasma species?

QMMS offers Mycoplasma culture and speciation, although this carries a minimum of 2 weeks turn around. Bear in mind that some Mycoplasma bacteria are less pathogenic than others. Whilst samples are incubated for Mycoplasma culture, standard bacteriology testing is also carried out to rule out involvement with other pathogens.

 Do you test all isolates for sensitivity to antibiotics?

No, we only test isolates from samples as requested. However, we routinely test all Staphylococcus aureus isolates for penicillin sensitivity as this can be a useful indicator of likely response to treatment.

Is it worth culturing my bulk tank to try to identify mastitis pathogens?

This is a difficult question and the answer is not straight forward. In reality it depends on what pathogens you are looking for. For contagious pathogens that are ‘specific’ to the udder, such as Streptococcus agalactiae and to a lesser extent Staphylococcus aureus this can be a useful screening exercise (though the former is now very rare in the UK). It can also be a useful way to screen a herd for the presence of Mycoplasma spp. However, for most bacterial species (particularly environmental organisms) bulk tank bacteriology is NOT useful as the organism is unlikely to have originated from another infected cow. That said, on occasions the presence of large numbers of Streptococcus uberis in a bulk milk sample can reflect the presence of an infected cow in the herd.

We’re starting ‘selective dry cow therapy’ – should we do some bacteriology? If so what’s appropriate?

We recommend strategic sampling of some high SCC cows in late lactation to better understand the pathogens you need to cure at drying off and of clinical mastitis cases in early lactation to get an insight into the main pathogens causing new intramammary infection in the dry period. A bulk tank sample is NOT an appropriate way to approach or justify blanket antibiotic use at drying off.