Fatty acids found in coconut and extracts from oregano and thyme can provide protection against notorious pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus uberus. Staph and strep cause inflammation of the udder, in cows.
The experiment is part of a larger research project on the use of natural substances instead of antibiotics. Organic livestock farmers in particular are interested in alternative medicines, but there is also a trend towards reducing antibiotic use in conventional farming.
Ultimately the intention is to test the natural extracts on cows by injecting them in diluted form into the infected udders, but the project has not reached that stage yet, says Smolders. There are restrictions on the use of natural substances as veterinary medicines.