The cost of mastitis to the dairy industry in NZ is substantial, with economic losses accruing from antibiotic costs, acute and chronic milk yield losses and reduced longevity of susceptible cows. Early detection and treatment of mastitis is a critical factor in reducing the severity of the infection and tissue damage within the udder (Douglas et al., 1997). However, increases in labour productivity are reducing contact time with cows, making early detection of mastitis increasingly difficult. In particular, the development of robotic milking equipment has highlighted the need for remote detection of mastitis. Apart from visual examination of fore-milk, somatic cell count (SCC) is used as the standard marker of milk quality. An increase in bulk milk SCC or a high SCC at herd test is used to diagnose new infections. However, one of the most widely used methods for cow-side or automated in-line testing for mastitis is the detection of changes in electrical conductivity of milk. This approach has several problems, not least of which is the limited accuracy of the method (see Woolford et al., 1998) and the relatively high cost of sensors (claws). The following study was undertaken as part of a screen of a number of potential markers in milk which could be used to indicate mastitis …
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 62, Palmerston North, 22-23, 2002
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