Heifers and their human handlers are at risk for decreased welfare during the early lactation period. This experiment investigated pre-parturient teat dipping and parlor acclimation to reduce mastitis and aversive behaviors in early lactation heifers. Three weeks prior to calving, heifers were randomly assigned to receive either: (1) a weekly 1.0% iodine-based teat dip in the parlor (trained; n = 37) or (2) no treatment (control; n = 30). For the first 3 days of lactation, heifers were milked twice daily, and treatment-blinded handlers assessed behaviors and clinical mastitis. Aseptic quarter milk samples were collected within 36 h of calving and analyzed for pathogens. Control heifers had (OR ± SE) 2.2 ± 0.6 times greater (p < 0.01) odds of kicking during milking. Trained heifers had (OR ± SE) 1.7 ± 0.4 times greater (p = 0.02) odds of being very calm during milking, while control heifers had 2.2 ± 0.8 and 3.8 ± 2.1 times greater (p < 0.04) odds of being restless and very restless or hostile during milking, respectively. Quarters of control heifers had (OR ± SE) 5.4 ± 3.4 greater (p < 0.01) odds of intramammary Staphylococcus aureus infection, yet clinical mastitis was similar among treatments. The results indicate that teat dipping in the parlor weekly for 3 weeks before calving may alleviate some aversive milking behaviors and protect against early lactation S. aureus intramammary infections.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding: This work is supported by Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) [grant no. 2016-51300-25734/project accession no. 1010693] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Human–animal relationship
- Udder health
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article