Milk composition and health status from mammary gland quarters adjacent to glands affected with naturally occurring clinical mastitis

Marcel G Paixão, Luiz R Abreu, Roxann Richert, Pamela L Ruegg
Journal of Dairy Science 2017, 100 (9): 7522-7533
Mammary gland quarters have usually been considered to be anatomically and physiologically independent, but some recent research has indicated more interdependence than previously reported. The objective of this study was to compare milk composition (fat, total protein, lactose, solids-not-fat, and chloride) and health status (somatic cell count, differential leukocyte count, and lactate dehydrogenase) of milk samples from unaffected mammary glands of an udder with a single clinically inflamed quarter to results of milk samples from healthy mammary glands of healthy cows. The study was designed as a prospective case control study with case and control cows matched by parity and days in milk. Cases were defined as cows (n = 59) experiencing clinical mastitis in a single mammary gland, and controls (n = 59) were defined as cows that had not experienced clinical mastitis during the current lactation. Quarter milk samples were collected from all mammary glands adjacent to clinically affected quarters of cases and from the same mammary glands of controls. Samples were used to assess concentration of chloride and lactate dehydrogenase, fat, total protein, solids-not-fat, somatic cell count, and differential leukocyte count. Microbiological analysis was also performed on milk samples obtained from clinically affected mammary glands (n = 59). Logistic regression models were used to assess possible associations among quarter somatic cell count (≥150,000 cells/mL) and quarter type (adjacent to case or control). Multivariate linear models were used to compare milk composition and health status between quarter types. A total of 170 quarters were enrolled per group. Milk obtained from adjacent quarters of cases contained a lesser concentration of total protein, lactose, and solids-not-fat, but had a greater concentration of fat and chloride. The somatic cell count, total leukocyte count, and absolute numbers of neutrophils, lymphocytes, and macrophages were all increased in milk obtained from adjacent quarters of case cows compared with milk obtained from quarters of control cows. The relative proportion of neutrophils was increased, whereas the proportion of macrophages was decreased in milk obtained from cases. Approximately 30% of milk samples obtained from adjacent quarters of cases had a somatic cell count ≥150,000 cells/mL compared with 12% of milk samples obtained from quarters of control cows. The position of the mammary gland was not associated with any outcomes. In conclusion, our results support previous research that indicates the immune response to intramammary infection in a single mammary gland quarter alters milk composition and health status throughout the udder.

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