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More research on contagious mastitis in dairy herds

The Milk Levy Foundation has granted 12.7 million Danish kroner to a new research project where scientists from Aarhus University will be one of the parties investigating the sources of contagious mastitis and developing new effective control measures.

[Translate to English:] Forskere fra AU skal under søge kilderne til smitsom yverbetændelse. Foto: Arkiv

Mastitis is one of the largest health problems in dairy herds. The infection is often caused by bacteria and is the main reason for the current consumption of antibiotics.

A new research project financed by the Milk Levy Foundation will generate new knowledge on how to effectively control contagious mastitis. The project is a collaboration between Aarhus University, University of Copenhagen, DTU Vet and the Knowledge Centre for Agriculture: Dairy and Cattle Farming.

The cross-disciplinary group of scientists from three universities and specialist advisers from the dairy sector ensure that the research is very user-oriented and applied.

”In dairy herds mastitis is a significant problem and if we can reduce the incidence of this disease, we will be able to reduce the use of antibiotics and increase milk yield. This is why the project can potentially have a large effect,” says senior researcher at the Department of Animal Science, Søren Østergaard.

Experiments in commercial herds

The reason for the specific focus on the infectious variant of mastitis is because great strides have already been made to generally reduce the incidence of this disease. The scientists believe that if further improvements are to be achieved, you need to concentrate on the variants of the infectious agents.

The project will specifically examine the distinctive properties of the bacteria. The scientists will identify significant sources of infection in herds, develop diagnostic tools and test effective methods to prevent the spread of infection between cows.

The research is conducted on commercial dairy herds where cows and bacteria will be closely monitored during milking and in the local environment. A decision support tool for farmers will also be developed to enable the best prevention and treatment strategies to be chosen.

"We will initially be visiting a number of commercial farms and look at how the infection is spread. What is the mode of transmission and what are the factors involved? Then, we will test various ideas and initiatives for how the infection rate can be reduced," says Søren Østergaard, and explains that senior adviser Torben Werner Bennedsgaard from the Department of Animal Science at Aarhus University plays a key role in these herd studies.

The project runs from 2015 to 2018 and has a total budget of 12.7 million Danish kroner.

For further information please contact:

Søren Østergaard
Senior researcher, Department of Animal Science - Epidemiology and Management 
E-mail: soren.ostergaard@anis.au.dk
Telephone: +45 87157961