Associations between early lactation intramammary infections and udder health and performance during the first 180 days in milk in first-lactation organic dairy cows

Felipe Peña-Mosca, Christopher J Dean, Leticia Fernandes, Enrique Doster, Kirsten T Moser, Tui Ray, Victoria Feijoo, Acir Antunes, Carol Baumann, Thomas Wehri, Bradley Heins, Pablo Pinedo, Vinicius Machado, Noelle Noyes, Luciano Caixeta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Prior data from our group showed that first-lactation cows under organic management in United States have a high prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus spp., and Staphylococcus chromogenes intramammary infections (IMI) in early lactation. Nonetheless, the relationship between IMI, udder health, and milk production in organically reared primiparous cows remains elusive. The objectives of this observational study were to investigate the relationship between presence and persistence of IMI in the first 35 d in milk (DIM) and somatic cell count (SCC) and milk production during the first 6 mo of lactation on first-lactation organic dairy cows. The analysis included a total of 1,348 composite milk samples collected during the first 35 DIM that were submitted for milk culture and 1,674 Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA) tests during the first 180 DIM from 333 heifers in 4 organic dairy farms, enrolled between February 2019 and January 2020. The association between IMI in the first 35 DIM and new high SCC (SCC > 200,000 cells/mL) and milk production during the first 6 mo of lactation was investigated using Cox proportional hazards regression and mixed linear regression, respectively. The association between IMI persistence (harboring the same microorganism as reported by the laboratory for 2 or more samples) in the first 35 DIM and number of DHIA tests with high SCC during the first 6 mo of lactation was modeled using negative binomial regression. The presence of IMI by Staph. aureus (hazard ratio [HR] [95% confidence interval {CI}]: 3.35 [2.64, 4.25]) or Streptococcus spp. (HR [95% CI]: 2.25 [2.12, 2.39]) during the first 35 DIM was associated with an increased risk of new high SCC during the first 6 mo of lactation. Milk production was reduced when Streptococcus spp. were identified in milk samples. However, there was no evidence of a difference in milk production in Staph. aureus IMI. Isolation of non-aureus staphylococci and mammaliicocci was related to a mild increase in the hazards of high SCC (HR [95% CI]: 1.34 [0.97, 1.85]) and a decrease in milk production during one or more postpartum tests. Presence of gram-negative or Streptococcus-like organisms IMI was not associated with either high SCC or milk production. Presence of Bacillus IMI was associated with a lower hazard of new high SCC (HR [95% CI]: 0.45 [0.30, 0.68]), and higher milk production during the first 180 d of lactation (overall estimate [95% CI]: 1.7 kg/d [0.3, 3.0]). The persistence of IMI in the first 35 DIM was associated with the number of tests with high SCC during the lactation for all microorganisms except for Staphylococcus chromogenes. Therefore, our results suggest that the persistence of IMI in the first 35 DIM could be an important factor to understand the association between IMI detected in early lactation and lactational SCC and milk production in organic dairy heifers. Our study described associations between IMI, udder health, and milk production in first-lactation organic dairy cows that are consistent with findings from conventional dairy farms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2426-2443
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Volume107
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 American Dairy Science Association

Keywords

  • chronic
  • inflammation
  • milk yield

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Observational Study, Veterinary

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