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2 Oct 2020 - Management advice on udder health

Recording, cost evaluating and measures

Mastitis is among the top culling reasons for dairy cows. It not only causes pain for the cow, but also results in decreased milk production, the need to discard milk and deal with reduced milk quality for processing. It is not only direct costs like medicine and vet costs that should be considered but also the costs of reduced milk production and discarded milk, increased culling risk and costs and fertility problems. The fatal case of mastitis costs 1,500 - 2,000 EUR per case.

Milk loss costs depend on the severity of mastitis. Subclinical mastitis (higher SCC) leads to 10% reduction in milk production. Clinical cases of mastitis leads to up to 20% reduction in milk. Severe cases of mastitis result in up to 100% milk loss. Milk loss and discarded milk account for 46% of total costs of mastitis.

Constant and careful registrations of mastitis cases in the herd are essential to keep the mastitis costs down. Make sure to keep the records for:

  • Herd’s average SCC on a yearly basis
  • SCC per month during the last year
  • Number of mastitis cases during the last year
  • Number of mastitis cases per month and quarter during the last year
  • Number of mastitis cases depending by lactation (first calvers and later lactation cows) and lactation cycle (early, mid, late and dry period).

Answer these questions based on the records:

  • Does mastitis occur in the specific period(s) of the year? (change in feed, climate, environment etc)
  • Is high SCC more common for the first calvers in the early lactation?
  • Is that the right animals that get treatment for mastitis?

It is crucial to consider critically all treatments, as the studies show that 50% of all mastitis treatments with antibiotics have no effect. The measures taken to prevent mastitis will most likely also reduce other diseases like ketosis and fertility problems – that are important for keeping the costs down. Preventing mastitis and other health problems are the key to success.

Focus your efforts on prevention through optimal management routines and the best suited genetics. Make sure to include Udder health into your breeding goal. According to Interbull lists from 2020, VikingGenetics countries have the highest genetic level for Udder health for Holstein (102), RDC (101) and Jersey (102) for proven bulls. Especially, for RDC and Jersey the bulls from VikingGenetics outperform all others.

Source: SEGES & Interbull