Development of efficient farm and/or farmer group specific mastitis prevention plans
Mastitis is a chronic disease of dairy cows, currently managed by antibiotics. Dairy production, currently accounts for more then 50% of antibiotic use in both organic and “low input” livestock production. Mastitis can also be a factor affecting milk quality, especially somatic cell count and shelf life of milk. A range of validated alternative methods for the prevention and control of mastitis in organic farms are available and the success of specific measures at the farm level is documented. However, many candidate strategies to improve udder health are not widely implemented in organic dairy farms.
An important reason is the lack of scientific based knowledge confirming the efficacy of non-antibiotic therapies. This leads to uncertainties among both veterinarians and organic farmers and often leads to un-necessary antibiotic use especially for dry-off therapy.
One of the most promising alternative measures is the application of so called “Teat Sealers” at the end of lactation instead of antibiotic treatment. Recent research also confirmed the positive effects of homeopathy supported mastitis control. However, the efficacy of these treatments has to be confirmed on commercial farms before its wider use can be recommended.
A recent EU-concerted action (NAHWOA PL 98-4055) concluded that the best approach to reduce antibiotic use for mastitis control in organic dairy production was
- To develop farmer and farmer group specific mastitis prevention plans and
- To then assess the efficacy of prevention plans and the adoption rate of individual measures on the farms involved
To address the technology requirements and deficiencies in knowledge described above we will carry out the following studies (sub-workpackages):
WP4.5.1 Evaluating specific on-farm measures on udder health and milk quality regarding ecologic and economic aspects. This will be based on an existing assessment system for farm-specific management factors and detailed scoring systems. The effect of such on-farm measures on the somatic cell counts of milk will also be determined.
WP4.5.2 Evaluating specific on-farm measures (farm-level and animal level) with two additional climatic, production system and economic/supply chain background conditions in Europe. The farm based prevention plan used will be amended depending on experiences under WP4.5.1
Cost/benefit analyses on novel strategies developed under WP4.5 will be carried out as part of Horizontal activity 1 & 2 based on data from WP4.5. The studies under WP4.5 will provide important data/deliverables for SPs 5 & 6 (see the graphics).