Effect of intramammary infection with non-aureus staphylococci in early lactation in dairy heifers on quarter somatic cell count and quarter milk yield during the first 4 months of lactation

D Valckenier, S Piepers, A De Visscher, R M Bruckmaier, S De Vliegher
Journal of Dairy Science 2019 April 25
A longitudinal study was conducted to assess to what extent intramammary infection (IMI) with non-aureus staphylococci (NAS) within the first 4 d after calving in dairy heifers affects quarter milk yield (qMY) and quarter milk somatic cell count (qSCC) during the first 4 mo of lactation. In total, 324 quarters from 82 Holstein Friesian heifers from 3 commercial dairy herds equipped with an automatic milking system were included and followed from calving up to 4 mo in lactation. The automatic milking system allowed us to precisely determine the daily qMY. A milk sample from each quarter was collected in early lactation (between 1 and 4 d in milk) for bacteriological culturing and measurement of the qSCC. Subsequently, milk samples were taken on a biweekly basis for measurement of the qSCC. The milk prolactin level in early lactation was measured, and the relation with NAS IMI was determined. Overall, NAS IMI in early lactation caused only a slight but significant increase in qSCC compared with milk from noninfected quarters during the first 4 mo in lactation, whereas no significant difference in daily qMY was present between NAS-infected and noninfected quarters. The milk prolactin level in early lactation did not differ between NAS-infected and noninfected quarters either. Our data suggest that IMI with NAS (as a group) present shortly after calving do not have an adverse effect on later production. The milk prolactin concentrations were not dissimilar between NAS-infected and noninfected quarters and thus cannot explain why NAS-infected quarters do not produce less than noninfected quarters.

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