Mastitis is the most costly disease on dairy farms, making up 10 percent of the total value of milk sales. Along with lost premiums, producers also lose total production and have treatment costs.
Tina Kohlman, University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac dairy and livestock agent, says "Mastitis has an effect on the profits for both farmers and processors. On average it costs $200 per cow per year and costs the U.S. dairy industry $2 billion a year."
During a recent milk quality meeting in Fond du Lac, she broke down those losses, indicating that 36 percent is from the loss of premiums; 35 percent from losses due to culling or cow death; 17 percent milk production losses and 12 percent from clinical mastitis.
Production losses occur not only during the time a cow is being treated for mastitis, but also from damage and chronic scarring of the milk secretory tissue that affects milk production in future lactations.
Production losses depend on several factors including the stage of lactation, duration of the infection, season or time of year, the level of the production and the type of pathogen involved.
Kohlman points out that mastitis occurs when bacterial exposure at the teat end exceeds the ability of the immune defenses of the cow. When somatic cell counts reach 100,000 production losses begin to occur.
MASTITIS AND REPRODUCTION
Mastitis also affects reproduction in a herd for several reasons.
When a cow has mastitis she also generally has an elevated body temperature, which influences her ability to get bred successfully. Embryonic losses from fever are common.
Increased body temperatures due to bacterial infection also result in an increase of metric oxide and an increase in prostaglandins in the blood and a decrease in GnRH, which has an impact on when she ovulates.
Research shows mastitis that occurs during early pregnancy (before 30-40 days post-AI) may cause immediate embryonic death, reduced pregnancy per AI and harmful effects to fetal development.
Kohlman says, "We're not saying don't breed a cow that has mastitis but mastitis does take its toll."
Cows that get mastitis have a calving to pregnancy interval 26 days longer. When looking at the average cost of $2 per day a cow is open that amounts to $52 per year per cow. In a herd of 1,000 cows, reducing the yearly incidence from the current average of 35 to 25 percent would save a farm $5,000 per year.
Kohlman stresses, "It's all about management and recognizing the seriousness of mastitis problems. It can be controlled. Prevention programs work best when they are correctly followed."
She concluded her presentation with the National Mastitis Council's basic 10-step mastitis program producers should follow.
Kohlman says, "If milk quality is a goal on your dairy operation, keep it at the forefront by connecting to milk quality on the web. Add these resources to your repertoire of tools."
• YouTube: Milk Quality videos from UW-Madison's Department of Dairy Science are available monthly on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/user/uwmilkquality?feature=mhee;
• UWMILKQUALITY Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/UwMilkQuality;
• Milk Quality Webpage: http://milkquality.wisc.edu/. This webpage is updated regularly and often features new research; and
• Twitter - Keep up with breaking Milk Quality news by following it on Twitter: https://twitter.com/topmilk.