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The most recent clinical mastitis data from the period following national implementation of the Dairy Mastitis Control Plan between 2009 and 2017 is summarised below. In addition, other sources report clinical mastitis incidence data, although it must be remembered that the last national prospective study remains the work by Bradley et al (published in 2007), from a large cohort of herds in England and Wales looked at in 2004-05.

Importantly, it must be remembered that average figures are often reported on small numbers of well-recorded herds and clinical mastitis data remains poorly reported by many herds in the UK, with both under-reporting (e.g. first case only) and over-reporting (e.g. treatments for subclinical infections reported as clinical events) common. Variation also exists within herds depending on the source of data for analysis, e.g. on farm software data capture, data capture by Third Party etc.

 

AHDB Sentinel Herd Data

The AHDB Sentinel Herds project involves collating data from sentinel farms to monitor trends in mastitis. A geographically representative population of approximately 100 “Sentinel Herds” was recruited in 2016, with the requirements 1) reliable electronic recording of clinical mastitis and 2) preferably monthly Individual Cow Somatic Cell Count recording. Funding currently covers data collation and analysis from these herds until December 2019. Posters reporting on 2016 data and 2017 data have been presented at the British Mastitis Conference.

 

Clinical Mastitis Data: Mastitis Control Plan (2013-16)

Data from up to 231 herds which reported on the impact of the Mastitis Control Plan between 2013 and 2016 were collated and analysed. The average rate of clinical mastitis fell by 20% in these herds, from 44 cases per 100 cows/year to 35 cases per 100 cows/year. Data were presented to the British Mastitis Conference in 2016 and a copy of the poster presentation is available here.

For herds that engage with the Plan and report clinical mastitis data, progress can be readily tracked. An example of a herd that began the Dairy Mastitis Control Plan in 2012 is shown below and clearly shows the impact of a sustained and farm-specific approach, reducing the overall incidence rate of clinical mastitis from 70-80 cases per 100 cows/year to ~30 cases per 100 cows/year during a 4-year period:

 

 An Illustration of the Clinical Mastitis Rate in a UK Dairy Herd over a 5-year Period compared to a target incidence rate (red line) of 0.25 cases per cow/year or 25 cases per 100 cows/year (source TotalVet/QMMS)

 

Clinical Mastitis Data: Mastitis Control Plan (2009-2012)

The final report from the first three years of the national Mastitis Control Plan is available to download and view here. A total of 954 herds were enrolled on the Plan between 2009 and 2012 but the proportion of herds submitted to the full DMCP process with little or no clinical mastitis data initially was approximately 40%, and there remains a huge challenge to encourage reporting of clinical mastitis on farm. Farmers, veterinary surgeons and consultants were encouraged and supported to provide clinical mastitis data for the DMCP during this period, and more robust data was therefore available in these herds at this time.

The variation in clinical mastitis incidence rate at the beginning of Plan implementation for 841 of these herds is shown below; the median (middle herd) clinical mastitis rate was just over 50 cases per 100 cows/year:

 Distribution of incidence rate of clinical mastitis (IRCM; cases per 100 cow-years) at day zero for herds enrolled to the DMCP between 2009 and 2012

 

Herds were then monitored by requesting data every 12 months from Plan Deliverers engaged with these herds and changes in the incidence rate of cows affected (IRCA) with clinical mastitis and the incidence rate of clinical mastitis (IRCM) evaluated.

Overall in these herds, the IRCA fell by an average of 3%, with herds complying with more than two-thirds of the Mastitis Control Plan priorities listed for their farm seeing a reduction of 10%. However, the IRCM remained relatively unchanged in these herds, and for high compliance herds, the IRCM actually increased. This is likely be a result of increased and improved recording of clinical mastitis - raising awareness may have increased this type of recording, meaning herds that engage well with the Plan appear to do worse in terms of clinical mastitis in the short term as they report it much better. This effect was not apparent in the low compliance herds, who either didn't report it at all, or who did report clinical mastitis but then stopped.

 

Clinical Mastitis Data: Overviews from Other Sources

Data from other sources highlight downward trends in the incidence rate of clinical mastitis data for those herds that report it.

Both The Kite Health Monitor (www.kiteconsulting.com) and the Kingshay Dairy Costings Focus Annual Report show downward trends within their clients' data over the past 5 years, with figures for 2016 putting the incidence rate of clinical mastitis at 36 and 49 cases per 100 cows/year respectively.

Data uploaded to the TotalVet database (www.total-vet.co.uk) reports the average clinical mastitis rate at 24 cases per 100 cows/year (below), but this is clearly hampered by >25% herds in the database that do not report clinical mastitis events in their on-farm software.