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Management factors associated with the incidence of clinical mastitis over the non-lactation period and bulk tank somatic cell count during the subsequent lactation

, : Management factors associated with the incidence of clinical mastitis over the non-lactation period and bulk tank somatic cell count during the subsequent lactation. New Zealand Veterinary Journal 51(2): 63-72

Aim: To evaluate associations between management decisions related to the control of mastitis, including the infusion of antibiotics at the end of lactation ('dry-cow therapy'; DCT), on the incidence of clinical mastitis over the non-lactating period and the bulk tank somatic cell count (BTSCC) in the subsequent lactation. Methods: Dairy herd owners (n=158) provided information via a retrospective survey about: (a) the proportion of their herds treated with DCT; (b) DCT management, including: number of occasions on which cows were dried off; manipulation of feed and water intake around drying off; infusion technique (partial vs. full depth insertion of cannula); and hygiene before and after DCT infusion; (c) occurrence of mastitis and frequency of occurrence following drying off and in the subsequent lactation; (d) number of cows culled for mastitis-related conditions; (e) reasons for culling; (f) incidence of clinical mastitis; and (g) stock purchase policy with regard to mastitis. The BTSCC for each vat of milk supplied for the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 seasons, and records of antibiotic purchases were collated for each herd. The probability that >2% of cows within a herd were diagnosed with clinical mastitis over the dry period was initially examined using univariate analysis (i.e. chi 2 or logistic regression) and associated factors (P<0.2) were offered to a reverse stepwise logistic regression model. Factors hypothesised as being associated with the average lactation log10 BTSCC for the 2000-2001 season were initially examined using univariate analysis (i.e. ANOVA or linear regression analysis) and associated factors (P<0.2) were then tested using a forward manual model-building approach. Results: Increasing the percentage of the herd treated with DCT at the end of lactation was associated with reduced probability that >2% of a herd would be diagnosed with clinical mastitis over the non-lactating period and with a lower BTSCC in the subsequent lactation (P<0.01). A lower BTSCC was associated with small herds (<150 cows; P<0.05), not reducing feed intake around drying off (P<0.05), checking for clinical mastitis over the dry period in the milking parlour rather than at pasture (P<0.05), partial insertion of the DCT cannula (P<0.01), and use of 'change in udder shape' during lactation as a diagnostic criterion for mastitis (P<0.05). The incidence of clinical mastitis over the dry period was positively associated with reduced feeding around drying off (P=0.05) and the estimated volume of milk being produced at the time of drying off (P=0.014). Conclusions: Use of DCT was associated with fewer cases of clinical mastitis over the non-lactating period and reduced BTSCC over the subsequent lactation. Reduced BTSCC was also associated with smaller herds, use of partial (compared with full depth) insertion of the DCT cannula, not reducing feed intake at the time of drying off, checking for clinical mastitis over the dry (non-lactation) period in the milking parlour, and use of udder shape for diagnosis during lactation. Control of clinical mastitis and BTSCC involves a range of management practices that need to be used in conjunction with DCT.


PMID: 16032302

DOI: 10.1080/00480169.2003.36342

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