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J Dairy Res. 2008 May;75(2):240-7. doi: 10.1017/S0022029908003257.

Using dairy herd improvement records and clinical mastitis history to identify subclinical mastitis infections at dry-off.

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*Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus 43210, USA.


Interest in selective dry cow therapy (SDCT) has been increasing owing to concerns over development of antimicrobial resistance. Implementation of SDCT, however, requires a quick and cost-effective on-farm method for identifying cows for treatment and cows that can be left without treatment. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the use of clinical mastitis (CM) history and somatic cell counts (SCC) from monthly Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI) records in identification of infected and uninfected cows at dry-off. A total of 647 Holstein cows were classified as uninfected or infected at dry-off based on CM history and varying number of monthly SCC records (with three different SCC cut-offs). Cows were considered uninfected based on the following criteria: (1) SCC <100,000 cells/ml and no CM during the lactation; (2) SCC <200,000 cells/ml and no CM during the lactation; (3) as criterion two, but additionally a cow was also considered uninfected if it experienced a case of CM during the first 3 months of the lactation and the SCC was <100,000 cells/ml for the rest of the lactation; (4) SCC <300,000 cells/ml and no CM during the lactation; otherwise they were considered infected. Infected and uninfected cows at dry-off were most efficiently identified using three months' SCC records with a threshold of 200,000 cells/ml for cows without CM during the lactation and a threshold of 100,000 cells/ml during the rest of lactation for cows with CM during the first 90 days in milk. Moreover, this criterion also most efficiently identified cows infected with major pathogens only at dry-off. The success of the criteria used for identifying infected and uninfected cows will, however, depend on herd characteristics, such as prevalence of infection and type of pathogens present in the herd.

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