‘Vaccination against mastitis improves udder health and milk production’

Vaccination against mastitis results in a lower cell count and less clinical mastitis. BSK increases more on farms that vaccinate than on other farms. Sustainability is improving: the average age of cows is rising and the use of antibiotics is declining. In summary, these are the conclusions of a seven-year study of the effect of vaccination against mastitis on 33 Dutch dairy farms.

In the field survey between 2013 and 2020, 33 dairy cattle farms were each followed for two years. The first year there was no vaccination against mastitis. The results of these two years were compared per. Corporation. The companies have been selected at random and have not made any major management changes during the investigation period. The MPR and MediRund reports were mainly used for the data.

Main results

It appears that vaccination against mastitis has a positive impact on milk production, BSK and herd age. As a result, the number of mastitis treatments is declining, as is the number of mastitis injectors used and the total antibiotic consumption on the farm. The somatic cell count of the tank milk decreases and there are fewer new cows with an increased somatic cell count.

Parameter years before vaccination Years of vaccination Difference (%)
Number of mastitis treatments 43.1 25.4 -39.84
Daily dose of mastitis injectors 1.00 0.55 -38.36
Number of animals treated for mastitis 35.9 21.6 -33.52
The company’s use of antibiotics 3.31 2.66 -17.63
Percentage of new animals with increased somatic cell count 7.7 6.8 -12.58
tank milk cell number 165.5 153.93 -5.41
Age of animals present (years) 4.42 4.52 +3.31
BSK 43.60 44.53 +2.79
Milk protein percentage 3.55 3.57 +0.63
Table 1: Main results of field study mastitis vaccination (Source: HIPRA Holland).

Vaccination against mastitis is economically viable

On a farm with a hundred dairy cows, the direct benefit of mastitis vaccination can amount to 9,270 euros, according to field studies conducted by HIPRA Holland. On holdings that vaccinate against mastitis, BSK increases by 2.79 percent, with the annual average BSK increase based on CRV numbers being 1.39 percent. Milk production increases with vaccination by 130 kg per. cow per year. Taking into account a milk price of 34.40 euros per. one hundred kilos, it gives the milk producer an additional 4,454 euros a year.

For the second part, the extra income can be attributed to a reduction in the number of mastitis cases. Scientific Dutch research from 2016 shows that a mastitis case costs on average 301 euros. A decrease in the number of mastitis cases from 42 to 26 per year thus gives 4,816 euros per year. The total extra benefit from vaccination is therefore 9,270 euros. If we deduct the vaccination costs of an average of thirty euros per. cow, vaccination provides a total of 6,270 euros per year. This means that for every euro invested in vaccination, the milk producer gets more than three back.

How does mastitis vaccination affect sustainability?

Research shows that vaccination against mastitis has a positive impact on the lifespan of cows. The average age of the cow increases by 3.31 percent. Fewer cows need to be removed due to clinical mastitis or high cell count. This is positive in relation to sustainability and also has a favorable business economic effect in the long term. An older cow produces more milk and less young animals need to be reared. Another sustainability aspect is the reduction of antibiotic consumption. A company that vaccinates against mastitis saves a lot on mastitis injectors and on the total antibiotic consumption at the company.

Differences between companies

The evaluation has looked at whether there is a difference in the effect of vaccination between large holdings (100 cows or more) and small holdings (less than one hundred cows). It seems that smaller farms are taking faster steps in areas such as udder health, milk production, antibiotic use and age. The average age of small farms increases in a year of vaccination, for example by no less than three months.

Smaller companies are likely to achieve results faster because the starting position was also slightly worse than at large companies. Interesting differences also arise when companies on the basis of BSK are clustered as highly productive, medium and low productive. For example, we see on low-performing farms that the number of cows with high cell counts and the number of mastitis treatments is declining faster than on high-performing farms. This, too, can be attributed to a less favorable starting position, which means that improvements can be seen relatively more quickly.

In addition, high-performing farms with a low cell count often involve several udder health problems caused by E coli infections. This often involves cows becoming a three teat. Low-productivity companies in the study more often suffer from increased somatic cell count as a result of Staphylococcus aureus, results in necessary long-term treatment. In the future, HIPRA Holland wants to expand its research further. Therefore, the differences between companies starting with mastitis vaccination due to infections with coli bacteria or vice versa the staphylococci must be taken into account.

Text: Gerben Hofman

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