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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Risk and success factors for good udder health of early lactation primiparous dairy cows

Waller, K. Persson; Lundberg, A.; Nyman, A-K


We compared the management and housing of dairy heifers from calf to calving in herds that were very successful versus less successful in preventing mastitis in early lactation primiparous cows. This retrospective observational study included 170 Swedish dairy herds. Eligible herds were identified from the Swedish official milk recording scheme (SOMRS). Each herd had at least 60 cows per year, production data from 3 consecutive years, and at least 10 primiparous cows per year with their first milk recording 5 to 35 d after calving and their second milk recording 20 to 40 d after the first milk recording. In each herd, primiparous cows with a low (<= 75,000 cells/mL) cow somatic cell count (CSCC) at both the first and second milk recording were categorized as low-low (LL); those with a high (>100,000 cells/mL) CSCC at both recordings were categorized as high-high (HH). Cows with high CSCC at the first recording and low at the second were categorized as high-low (HL). The annual proportions of LL, HL, and HH cows within each herd were calculated. Herds with an above-median proportion of LL, HL, or HH cows during the first year of a 3-yr selection period, and above the third quartile proportion of LL, HL, or HH cows, respectively, during the second and third year were identified. These herds (LL herds, n = 129; HL herds, n = 92; HH herds, n = 139) were contacted until a maximum of 60 herds per category had agreed to participate. Field technicians/veterinarians visited each herd once in the mid to late indoor season to collect data on housing and management of the heifers from birth to calving. Additional data were retrieved from the SOMRS. Associations between herd category (LL, HL, or HH) and variables collected were analyzed in 8 multivariable multinomial logistic regression submodels covering herd characteristics, milk-fed calves, heifers in early pregnancy, heifers in late pregnancy, calving and colostrum period, miscellaneous factors, summarized heifer housing data, and general health, culling, and fertility data. A final multivariable model was built from the results of the submodels and univariable analyses. The final model showed that having a standard operating procedure for colostrum feeding was more common in LL and HL herds than in HH herds; the mean bulk milk SCC and overall culling rate due to udder health was higher in HH herds than in LL and HL herds; and automatic milking was less common in LL herds than in HL and HH herds. Several herd and management variables differed between herd categories in the submodels. In conclusion, we identified several success factors for herds with good udder health among early lactation primiparous cows. This knowledge can be used to improve preventive measures in dairy herds to ensure sustainable and economic milk production.


mastitis; SCC categories; housing; management

Published in

Journal of Dairy Science
2021, Volume: 104, number: 4, pages: 4858-4874

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    Animal and Dairy Science

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