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EuroTier 2016 Udder Health special feature Part II Monitoring new infection rates in lactation is vital for understanding udder health in the dairy herd

The EuroTier special feature "Healthy udders throughout the year" will highlight the importance of using cell count figures to make informed management decisions

FRANKFURT/MAIN, Germany, 29th July, 2016 – Dairy farmers who want to achieve good udder health need to monitor the level of infection in their herds closely, and use indicators such as the level of new infections to identify vulnerabilities and introduce control measures.
At EuroTier 2016, taking place at Hanover’s Fair Grounds from 15 to 18 November, the "Healthy udders throughout the year” special feature will offer milk producers practical solutions and recommendations for improving udder health. These will include the value of monitoring the rate of new infections from one milk recording session to the next, which can be calculated from figures provided in German dairy farmers’ MLP reports*.

The rate of new infections in lactation reflects the percentage of cows whose cell content has worsened from the previous to the current milk recording. A cow's udder that is producing milk with a cell count of ≤ 100,000 cells/ml is considered healthy, while higher somatic cell concentrations are associated with reduced herd performance.

The possible causes for increasing infection rates can be linked to both environmental factors that can result in acute udder health problems that appear between one lactation and the next one, or it may be a longer-term issue that is seen at certain stages of lactation. For this reason, it is important that the rate of new infections is calculated both monthly and after the lactation. This way, it can be determined, for example, whether the cause could be something as basic as a change in feed ration, or if a group of freshly calved cows have entered the herd and are responsible for the increased cell counts.

Udder health problems during lactation can result in a high financial loss for milk producers, so monitoring this key figure for new infections will highlight any weaknesses developing in the herd, allowing appropriate action to be taken.
 
Experts’ views on monitoring new infections in lactation
Alois Rehrl, dairy expert at Landeskuratorium der Erzeugerringe für tierische Veredelung, in Bavaria, explains: "The resulting indicators give me an overview of when exactly the cause of the udder health problems occurred and also how long it has lasted. To me, a low value means that I do not need to recommend any significant changes in the area of housing, feeding and milking, but the cause of increased somatic cell count probably lies in an inconsistent control and reduction of mastitis in the herd.”

Dr. Joachim Kleen, a veterinary specialist in dairy cattle, and a consultant at Cow Consult Company, in Uplengen-Jübberde, says: "The rate of new infections is a sensitive value showing very closely, from month to month, whether more or fewer animals are developing udder health problems. To that extent, this is the central parameter that dairy farmers should be measuring to help them and their consultants in decision making. Any changes are seen immediately and undistorted by other factors."

Andreas Pelzer, head of the cattle farming department at the Haus Düsse test and training center, in North Rhine Westphalia, comments: "The rate of new infections in lactation reflects current developments in udder health, and recognizing a worsening situation means that the causes can be detected and remedied in good time. In particular, dairy farmers should check for changes in how the cows are housed and fed, or if the hygiene situation has changed. Even the climate or other seasonal influences should be considered for their effects on udder health.”

The “Healthy udders throughout the year” special feature can be found at EuroTier 2016 in Hall 12, Stand F25, where milk producers will find an area of more than 580 square meters dedicated to practical solutions and recommendations for improving udder health.
 
* The MLP Report is the monthly record of milk yield, milk content and health status based on somatic cells per ml milk. Approximately 85% of German dairy cows are included in the report scheme.
 
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Malene Conlong
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Email: m.conlong@dlg.org
 

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International media and communications manager