Bovine subclinical mastitis reduces milk yield and economic return

J. L. Gonçalves, C. Kamphuis, C. M.M.R. Martins, J. R. Barreiro, T. Tomazi, A. H. Gameiro, H. Hogeveen, M. V. dos Santos*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    The effect of different pathogens was studied by evaluating the contralateral (healthy and infected) mammary quarters of 146 lactating cows. The impact of SM on economic return (quarter milk yield × milk price) was determined by applying milk payment estimates on milk collected from healthy vs. infected glands. Cows were considered infected when they had at least 2 out of 3 weekly composite SCC results > 200 × 10 3 cells/mL and a microbiological culture (MC) positive result from composite foremilk samples, collected in the third week of sampling. Infected cows were evaluated a second time within 15 days and had milk yield measured at the quarter level and foremilk samples collected by aseptic technique for analysis of MC, milk composition and SCC. Of the 611-composite milk samples, 397 (65%) were culture-negative, and 214 (35%) were culture-positive and the most frequent isolated bacteria were Corynebacterium spp. (7.9%), coagulase negative staphylococci (5.8%), Staphylococcus aureus (5.3%), Streptococcus uberis (4.6%), Streptococcus agalactiae (3.9%), other environmental streptococci (2.4%), Gram-negative isolates (2.4%), Enterococcus spp. (1.4%) and Streptococcus dysgalactiae (0.7%). A total of 55 pairs of healthy contralateral quarters (control) were compared, and no difference was observed between them when evaluating SCC, milk yield, fat and protein concentration and economic return. A total of 124 pairs of healthy had lower SCC (274.9 × 10 3 cells/mL) than infected contralateral quarters (SCC of 1038.5 × 10 3 cells/mL). At the quarter level, IMI caused by minor pathogens had no effect on SCC, milk yield and economic return. Subclinical mastitis caused by contagious and environmental pathogens increased SCC and decreased milk yield when compared with healthy contralateral quarters. Moreover, quarters infected by contagious pathogens had increased concentrations of milk protein and fat when compared with healthy contralateral quarters. Therefore, the milk economic return was lower in quarters with SM caused by environmental pathogens (US$ 0.18/quarter.milking) and contagious (US$ 0.22/quarter.milking) when compared with healthy contralateral quarters. The milk losses ranged from 0.07 kg/quarter.milking to 1.4 kg/quarter.milking and the economic losses ranged from US$ 0.02–0.4/quarter.milking according to the pathogen causing SM.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)25-32
    Number of pages8
    JournalLivestock Science
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


    • Contagious
    • Environmental
    • Milk price
    • Milk quality
    • Subclinical mastitis


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