Cow-level risk factors for clinical mastitis in the dry period in cows treated with an internal teat sealant alone at the end of lactation

Cow-level risk factors for clinical mastitis in the dry period in cows treated with an internal teat sealant alone at the end of lactation
Peer reviewed

Abstract

Aims: To assess potential cow-level risk factors for clinical mastitis during the dry period in cows infused with internal teat sealant (ITS) alone at drying off, and associations with elevated somatic cell counts (SCC) at the first herd test, or clinical mastitis in the subsequent lactation.

Methods: Ten herds reporting an incidence of clinical mastitis during the dry period of >3% amongst cows infused with ITS alone at the end of the 2018/2019 lactation were enrolled. Cow data collected included age, breed, milk yield and SCC at the last herd test before drying off, drying off date, clinical mastitis records during the dry period and in the subsequent lactation, and SCC at the first herd test following calving.

Results: Overall, 2,401 cows were infused with ITS alone and 196/2,401 (8.2%) cows were diagnosed with clinical mastitis during the dry period. In the final multivariable model for risk of clinical mastitis there was an interaction between age and milk yield at the last herd test (p < 0.001), with cows aged >4 years and producing ≥10 L/cow/day having a higher risk of clinical mastitis than younger cows or those producing <10 L/cow/day. The risk of clinical mastitis was higher for cows dried off in the last week of lactation than for cows dried off >1 week before the end of lactation for the herd (p = 0.033). The percentage of cows with elevated SCC (>150,000 cells/mL) at the first herd test in the following lactation was higher amongst those diagnosed with clinical mastitis over the dry period compared with those that were not (p = 0.048). The hazard of clinical mastitis in the first 60 days after calving was also higher in cows diagnosed with clinical mastitis in the dry period than those that were not (p < 0.001).

Conclusions and clinical relevance: The risk of clinical mastitis in the dry period following infusion of ITS alone at the end of lactation was associated with cow age, milk yield before drying off and timing of drying off. Cows diagnosed with clinical mastitis over the dry period had a higher risk of clinical mastitis and of elevated SCC in the subsequent lactation. This was an observational study so no causal inferences can be made, however herdowners and veterinarians should follow current recommendations regarding management of milk yield before drying off, and selection of cows for treatment with ITS alone.


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