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Mastitis and related management factors in certified organic dairy herds in Sweden

Hamilton, Cecilia; Emanuelson, Ulf; Forslund, Kristina; Hansson, Ingrid and Ekman, Torkel (2006) Mastitis and related management factors in certified organic dairy herds in Sweden. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, 48 (11).

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Online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1751-0147-48-11

Summary

Background
Mastitis is one of the major threats to animal health, in organic farming as well as conventional. Preliminary studies of organic dairy herds have indicated better udder health in such herds, as compared to conventional herds. The aim of this paper was to further study mastitis and management related factors in certified organic dairy herds.
Methods
An observational study of 26 certified organic dairy herds in mid-eastern Sweden was conducted during one year. A large-animal practitioner visited the herds three times and clinically examined and sampled cows, and collected information about general health and management routines. Data on milk production and disorders treated by a veterinarian in the 26 herds, as well as in 1102 conventional herds, were retrieved from official records. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess associations between herd type (organic vs. conventional) and incidence of disorders.
Results
The organic herds that took part in the study ranged in size from 12 to 64 cows, in milk production from 3772 to 10334 kg per cow and year, and in bulk milk somatic cell counts from 83000 to 280000 cells/ml. The organic herds were found to have a lower incidence of clinical mastitis, teat injuries, and a lower proportion of cows with a high somatic cell count (as indicated by the UDS, Udder Disease Score) compared to conventional herds. The spectrum of udder pathogenic bacteria was similar to that found in other Swedish studies. Treatment of mastitis was found to be similar to what is practised in conventional herds. Homeopathic remedies were not widely used in the treatment of clinical mastitis.
The calves in most of these organic herds suckled their dams for only a few days, which were not considered to substantially affect the udder health. The main management factor that was different from conventional herds was the feeding strategy, where organic herds used a larger share of forage.
Conclusion
Udder health in Swedish organic herds appears to be better than in conventional herds of comparable size and production. The major difference in management between the two types of farms is the proportion of concentrates fed. The mechanisms explaining the association between intensity of feeding and udder health in dairy cows require further research.


EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Dairy cow, mastitis, udder health, management, organic
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Production systems > Dairy cattle
Animal husbandry > Health and welfare
Research affiliation: Sweden > University SLU > Clinical Sciences
Deposited By: Emanuelson, Professor Ulf
ID Code:9114
Deposited On:17 Jan 2007
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:34
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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