Associations between paratuberculosis milk ELISA result, milk production, and breed in Canadian dairy cows

U. S. Sorge, K. Lissemore, A. Godkin, S. Hendrick, S. Wells, D. Kelton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The 3 objectives of this study were (1) to quantify milk production differences among cows with different paratuberculosis (ParaTB) milk ELISA results; (2) to determine if production differences existed in lactations preceding the test among cows with different ParaTB milk ELISA results; and (3) to assess whether Channel Island breeds were more likely to test positive with the ParaTB milk ELISA than other dairy breeds. Current and completed lactation records from 35,591 dairy cows in Ontario and western Canada that had been tested with a commercial ParaTB milk ELISA were included in the analysis. The first occurrence of the highest categorical test result was used to classify the cow. Cows were then grouped by the lactation in which the first high-positive (HTP), low-positive, or negative milk ELISA occurred, and comparisons were made within lactation groups. High test-positive cows were defined as those that had an optical density ≥1.0 on at least 1 ParaTB milk ELISA. The associations between ParaTB milk ELISA status and milk production, as measured by the 305-d milk yield, were assessed with a series of linear mixed models. The effect of breed on the likelihood of testing positive with the milk ELISA was assessed using a logistic mixed model for the lactation in which the first negative or positive ParaTB milk ELISA occurred. Test-positive cows produced on average 2.9 to 6.8% less milk than negative herdmates in the lactation in which they were tested. The HTP cows produced on average 466, 514, and 598. kg less milk than low-positive herdmates in lactations 1, 2, and 4, respectively. Cows testing low-positive in their second lactation had, on average, a 218-kg higher milk yield in their first lactation than their test-negative herdmates. Otherwise, no association was found between test result and milk production in preceding lactations. Differences in milk production among negative, test-positive, and HTP cows increased with increasing parity. Cows of the Channel Island breeds had 1.4 to 8.3 times the odds to test positive compared with other dairy breeds. The findings of this study are consistent with previous studies that have reported that milk production is lower in test-positive animals. The differences in milk production increased with increasing ELISA optical density scores and parity in which the animal tested positive. However, with the exception of second-lactation cows, no differences in milk production were observed in tests preceding lactations. The differences in milk ELISA status among dairy breeds support the need for further studies investigating the genetic component of ParaTB susceptibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)754-761
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Breed
  • Dairy cow
  • Milk production
  • Paratuberculosis


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