Effects of Mastitis on the Volume and Composition of Colostrum Produced by Holstein Cows

F. P. Maunsell, D. E. Morin, P. D. Constable, W. L. Hurley, G. C. McCoy, I. Kakoma, R. E. Isaacson

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57 Scopus citations


The effects of mastitis during the late nonlactating period on colostral volume and concentrations and total yields of immunoglobulin (Ig) G1, fat, and protein in colostrum were investigated using matched pairs of mammary glands from multiparous Holstein cows. Samples of mammary secretions were collected at approximately 14 and 7 d prepartum and within 3 h after calving. At each sampling time, the glands and secretions were examined for gross abnormalities, and the California Mastitis Test was performed. Duplicate secretion samples from each gland were cultured, and somatic cell count, pH, and fat and protein concentrations were determined. The volume of colostrum obtained at the first milking of each gland was quantified using a quarter milking device, and its IgG1 concentration was measured. Colostral volume from persistently infected mammary glands was lower than that from matched uninfected glands, as was the total mass of IgG1. However, infection did not alter IgG1 concentration in colostrum. Fat and protein percentages were lower in prepartum secretions but not in colostrum from infected glands. Persistent infection was associated with increased somatic cell count and pH of secretions at all sampling times, and California Mastitis Test scores were higher for colostrum from infected glands. The appearance of secretions was extremely variable, but the presence of flakes or clots in colostrum was associated with infection. We concluded that mastitis during the late nonlactating period alters mammary gland function but is unlikely to be an important contributor to the high rate of failure of passive transfer of immunoglobulins in calves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1291-1299
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Ashly LaRoche and Brian Siever for invaluable assistance with sample collection and processing and James Morlock, Zou Sixiang, and Rita Weisiger for technical assistance. The assistance of University of Illinois Dairy Research Farm personnel with cow and calf handling was also greatly appreciated. This project was funded by Illinois Department of Agriculture Cattle Research Funds and the Illinois Agricultural Experiment Station, Project Numbers ILLU-70-0320 and ILLV-44-5233.


  • Colostrum
  • Dry period
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Mastitis


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