Mastitis management in dairy cows and improving herd health are two significant challenges among many others that dairy farmers face. That’s because mastitis is the costliest disease affecting dairy cattle.
Consequently, prevention and control of mastitis are the keys to reducing this condition’s negative impact on dairy operations. Several international studies have addressed this issue because it is such a major problem facing dairy farmers worldwide.
“The NMC (National Mastitis Council) estimates that mastitis costs dairy producers in the U.S. over $2 billion annually. Thus, mastitis continues to be one of, if not, the most significant limiting factor to profitable dairy production in the U.S. and throughout the world.”
The difficulties of mastitis management in dairy cows
Mastitis is caused by pathogens that infect the udder and grow there, causing inflammation. The disease results in reduced milk production and may lower milk quality. Mastitis is caused by various pathogens, making it exceedingly difficult to control it and prevent adverse impacts on dairy operations and substantial economic losses.
According to the 2011 edition of Dairy Production Medicine, more than 90% of mastitis cases are related to infectious pathogens naturally occurring in the environment and are highly contagious. Therefore, proper monitoring systems and early detection and identification of pathogens are essential to prevent contraction.
Traditionally, bulk tank analysis and individual animal cultures, and milk analysis have been the strategies to identify mastitis-causing organisms and determine somatic cell counts (SCC) on dairy farms.
Both methods have their limitations. Positive bulk tank analysis requires the costly dumping of entire bulk tank loads. The expensive screening of individual cultures and removing infected cows from the herd are significant drawbacks of this approach.
The need for a proven, cost-effective, and easy-to-use method for early detection and management of mastitis has never been greater.
International studies prove the effectiveness of QualiTru’s inline sampling for improving herd health
The scale of farms in the United States and Latin America is increasing, along with the need to control raw milk components and mastitis pathogens for the consistent production of high-quality milk. As these requirements spread between growing herds, technology is essential to help farmers maintain consistency and cost savings.
Dr. Julian Bartolome, at the Department of Reproduction and Animal Health at the University of La Pampa in Argentina, and Dr. Pedro Melendez, at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia, United States, understand the challenges that farmers face.
Working with QualiTru, they designed a study using representative sampling to compare the sensitivity of inline sampling to a bulk tank and individual cow samples to determine the presence of specific mastitis pathogens, SCC, and milk components. These studies questioned the value of the sample data that farmers rely on to control and manage herd health.
Milk line sampling devices such as the QualiTru system offer the opportunity to take a representative sample of a group of cows during the milking process. This helps the farmer take proactive measures to prevent costly mastitis by regularly gathering data to watch trends and act quickly with a pen with high SCCs. There is the bonus of reducing the number of samples needed for testing to save labor and testing costs for individual cow testing.
Is representative inline sampling a reliable method to gain control of mastitis and herd health?
The first part of the study compared the bulk tank and inline samples on a 700-herd dairy farm in La Pampa, Argentina.
QualiTru’s inline sampling system collected representative milk samples from seven groups of 170 cows, with a total of 25 samples. Cows with high somatic cell counts or with clinical mastitis and others within the groups were individually sampled and compared to the inline sample findings.
The individual cow and milk line pooled composite samples were cultured for aerobic bacterial isolation and mycoplasma using standard approved methodologies. It concluded that, in general, the milk inline sampling device is useful in detecting mastitis-causing organisms shed by positive cows.
“The QualiTru inline sampling system has proven to be a useful epidemiological surveillance tool for mastitis within different milking groups.”
Read the study: Mastitis Detection for Representative Sampling
The second part of the study compared a bulk tank sample to a line sample at the university farm in Georgia. Individual milk samples from the four quarters were collected from 16 cows and compared to the QualiTru inline representative samples collected before the bulk tank. Samples were cultured for aerobic bacterial isolation and mycoplasma using standard approved methodologies.
Results indicated that the QualiTru aseptic representative sampling system is an effective tool for determining the source of bacteria in a bulk tank.
“QualiTru aseptic, representative sampling system is an effective tool for determining the source of bacteria in a bulk tank.”
Read the study sanitation verification with aseptic sampling
Inline representative sampling can help farmers gain control and have confidence in their process while reducing the number of samples needed to maintain quality and reduce costs.
Read more about Mastitis Management:
Risco, Carlos A., and Pedro Melendez Retamal. Dairy Production Medicine. Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.