Effect of incomplete milking during the first 5 days in milk on udder and reproductive tract health: Results from a randomized controlled trial

C Krug, P-A Morin, P Lacasse, J-P Roy, J Dubuc, S Dufour
Journal of Dairy Science 2018 August 1
The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of an incomplete milking on risk of mastitis and reproductive tract disease. Multiparous dairy cows (n = 878) from 13 commercial herds were enrolled in a randomized controlled trial. Cows were randomly assigned to either a control (milked conventionally) or a treatment group, which consisted of an incomplete milking (10-14 L of milk collected/d) from 1 to 5 d in milk (DIM). Quarter milk samples were collected at approximately 11 and 18 DIM to measure somatic cell count (SCC). Quarters were considered negative for intramammary infection if SCC was <100,000 cells/mL and positive if SCC was ≥200,000 cells/mL. To calculate intramammary infection incidence, negative quarters of the initial samples collected were tested again 1 wk later. This was done to deter incidence of positive quarters. To calculate elimination rate, positive quarters were tested again 1 wk later to detect mastitis elimination. Farmers recorded clinical mastitis events. Cows were also examined at approximately 35 DIM with a Metricheck device (Simcro, Hamilton, New Zealand) for detection of purulent vaginal discharge (PVD) and with an endometrial cytobrush for presence of leukocytes [endometrial cytology for smear (ENDO) and for leukocyte esterase test (LE)]. A threshold ≥3 was used to define a positive PVD or LE test, whereas a polymorphonuclear cell count ≥6% was used to define a positive ENDO. Five generalized mixed models with cow or herd as random intercepts were used to determine the effects of incomplete milking on odds of new intramammary infection, odds of intramammary infection elimination, and odds of a positive PVD, LE, or ENDO status. To investigate time until first clinical mastitis event, a Cox model with a herd frailty term was used. The odds of new intramammary infection and intramammary infection elimination for incompletely milked cows were 0.90 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.49, 1.7] and 2.9 (95% CI: 1.4, 6.0) times those of conventionally milked cows, respectively. The hazard of clinical mastitis in incompletely milked cows was 0.96 (95% CI: 0.59, 1.6) times that of conventionally milked cows. The odds of PVD, LE, and ENDO for incompletely milked cows were 1.4 (95% CI: 0.89, 2.1), 1.3 (95% CI: 0.88, 1.8), and 1.2 (95% CI: 0.81, 1.7) times those of conventionally milked cows. These results suggest that incomplete milking during the first 5 DIM increases the odds of a decrease in SCC from 11 to 18 DIM but does not affect odds of increase in SCC in the same period. The incomplete milking had no effect on clinical mastitis incidence in the first 90 DIM or on reproductive tract health at 35 DIM.

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