Mastitits in beef cows- a threat against calf growth
Foto: Bengt Ekberg SVA
In beef cows, milk production is the most important factor affecting calf growth before weaning. Thus, factors that limit milk production has negative effects on calf weaning weight. Mastitis (udder inflammation) is a disease reducing milk production and is often associated with bacterial udder infection. Studies from abroad indicate that mastitis/infection significantly affects calf weaning weight. The knowledge on mastitis in Swedish beef cows is, however, very limited. The aim of the study was therefore to investigate presence of mastitis/udder infection and udder condition in a small number of beef herds to evaluate the need for more comprehensive studies regarding risk factors and control measures for mastitis in beef cows. In 10 herds enrolled in KAP milk samples from approximately 10 cows per herd were analysed for somatic cell counts and bacteriology. Associations between mastitis/infection and weaning weight were also investigated. The results showed that subclinical (not visible) mastitis is common both just after calving and just before weaning. Only a small proportion of the cows had findings of the same bacterial species at both samplings which indicates that long persisting udder infections are rather uncommon. Staphylococci were the most common finding and mer than 95% of those were sensitive to penicillin. The results indicate that the risk for udder health problems can be reduced by culling cows with non-functioning quarters and cows with poor teat/udder shape after calving. It is also important that the cows are clean. No significant associations between udder health and calf weaning weights were found.