Dutch dairy farmers' need for microbiological mastitis diagnostics

Karien Griffioen, Geralda E Hop, Manon M C Holstege, Annet G J Velthuis, Theo J G M Lam, 1Health4Food–Dutch Mastitis Diagnostics Consortium

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Although several microbiological mastitis diagnostic tools are currently available, dairy farmers rarely use them to base treatment decisions on. In this study, we conducted a telephone interview among 195 randomly selected Dutch dairy farmers to determine their current use of and their need for microbiological diagnostics for clinical mastitis (CM), subclinical mastitis (SCM), and dry-cow treatment (DCT), followed by the test characteristics they consider important. A structured questionnaire was used, based on face-to-face interviews previously held with other farmers. The answers were registered in a database and analyzed using descriptive statistics and univariable and multivariable models. Antimicrobial treatment decisions for CM, SCM, and DCT were mainly based on clinical signs and somatic cell count. In case of CM, 34% of farmers indicated that they currently submit milk samples for bacteriological culture (BC). This would increase to 71% if an on-farm test resulting in treatment advice within 12 h were available. For SCM, use would increase from 22 to 55%, and for DCT, from 7 to 34%, if the same 12-h test were available. For CM and DCT, the preferred test outcome was advice on which antibiotic to use, according to 58 and 15% of the farmers, respectively. For SCM, the preferred test outcome was the causative bacterium for 38% of the farmers. Farmers who currently submit CM milk samples for BC were 13.1 times more likely to indicate, as the preferred test outcome, advice on which antibiotic to use, compared with farmers who do not currently submit CM milk samples for BC. Fourteen percent of the farmers indicated not being interested at all in microbiological mastitis diagnostics for CM. For SCM and DCT, 27 and 55%, respectively, were not interested in microbiological mastitis diagnostics. Regarding test characteristics that farmers considered important, reliability was most often indicated (44-51% of the farmers). Additionally, a preferred time-to-result of ≤8 h for CM and ≤20 to 24 h for SCM and DCT and ≤7% false test outcomes were indicated as desired characteristics of microbiological mastitis diagnostics. Overall, a need seems to exist for microbiological mastitis diagnostic tests among Dutch dairy farmers, specifically for CM, and resulting in a treatment advice. The availability of a reliable diagnostic test, with a suitable time-to-result, will likely increase the use of microbiological mastitis diagnostics and eventually optimize antibiotic usage.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5551-5561
    JournalJournal of Dairy Science
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


    • Mastitis
    • reliability
    • test characteristics
    • microbiological diagnostics


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