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J Dairy Sci. 2007 Aug;90(8):3764-76.

Cow, farm, and management factors during the dry period that determine the rate of clinical mastitis after calving.

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School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington, LE12 5RD, United Kingdom.


The purpose of the research was to investigate cow characteristics, farm facilities, and herd management strategies during the dry period to examine their joint influence on the rate of clinical mastitis after calving. Data were collected over a 2-yr period from 52 commercial dairy farms throughout England and Wales. Cows were separated for analysis into those housed for the dry period (8,710 cow-dry periods) and those at pasture (9,964 cow-dry periods). Multilevel models were used within a Bayesian framework with 2 response variables, the occurrence of a first case of clinical mastitis within the first 30 d of lactation and time to the first case of clinical mastitis during lactation. A variety of cow and herd management factors were identified as being associated with an increased rate of clinical mastitis and these were found to occur throughout the dry period. Significant cow factors were increased parity and at least one somatic cell count > or = 200,000 cells/mL in the 90 d before drying off. A number of management factors related to hygiene were significantly associated with an increased rate of clinical mastitis. These included measures linked to the administration of dry-cow treatments and management of the early and late dry-period accommodation and calving areas. Other farm factors associated with a reduced rate of clinical mastitis were vaccination with a leptospirosis vaccine, selection of dry-cow treatments for individual cows within a herd rather than for the herd as a whole, routine body condition scoring of cows at drying off, and a pasture rotation policy of grazing dry cows for a maximum of 2 wk before allowing the pasture to remain nongrazed for a period of 4 wk. Models demonstrated a good ability to predict the farm incidence rate of clinical mastitis in a given year, with model predictions explaining over 85% of the variability in the observed data. The research indicates that specific dry-period management strategies have an important influence on the rate of clinical mastitis during the next lactation.

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