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An investigation of the incidence, treatment strategies and financial implications of mastitus in organic and conventionally managed UK dairy herds - OF0124T

Description
Complete Title: An investigation of the incidence, treatment strategies and financial implications of mastitis in organic and conventionally managed UK dairy herds.

This study will aim to develop and promote improved techniques and systems for the control and treatment of mastitis in both organic and conventional dairy cattle. The study will be composed of 6 specific objectives outlined as follows, together with ways in which they might be achieved:

1. Measurement of the level of mastitis in organic and conventional dairy production systems. Initially, a review of relevant literature will be conducted. The DAISY database of 100 sentinel herds throughout the country will be analysed to estimate the incidence of mastitis in these herds. Results from a Soil Association questionnaire will also be analysed to survey the incidence of mastitis in organic dairy herds. The incidence of mastitis in dairy herds (selected from a survey of all organic dairy farms) of varying size with different management systems will be monitored; this will include monthly California Milk Test monitoring of all lactating cows and collection of somatic cell count data. Milk records will also be collected from study farms;

2. Identification of predisposing factors influencing the incidence of mastitis in dairy cattle. Data on herd structure and dynamics will be collected and information on the ratio and nature of forage and concentrates used, grazing policy, mineral supplementation and feeding regimes will be obtained from all study herds. Different disease control therapies used to control mastitis and other common diseases will be evaluated and management strategies that may influence the incidence of mastitis will be identified;

3. Description of different control strategies adopted by farmers to identify and treat mastitis in dairy cattle. Matched conventional and organic farms will be identified for individual case studies to investigate in detail management strategies that influence mastitis. Detection procedures, principal control strategies, outcomes of treatment and recording systems for mastitis will be monitored on all study farms;

4. Quantification of the production and financial losses due to mastitis and estimation of the cost benefit ratios of different control strategies. Data will be collected from study farms to quantify production losses attributable to mastitis. A financial analysis of costs and inputs required for mastitis control on organic and conventional farms will be conducted;
5. Comparison of the public health implications of mastitis control strategies employed on organic and conventional dairy farms. Milk sampling and laboratory analysis will be conducted on all cows on study farms exhibiting clinical mastitis. Bulk milk samples will be regularly tested for antibiotic residues, and antibiotic use on study farms will be monitored;

6. Dissemination of study findings and promotion of improved mastitis control techniques to farmers. Results from the project will be published in appropriate scientific journals and released as press releases. Training workshops and seminars for farmers will be run and a scientific conference to discuss study findings will be organised. The study will help to highlight alternative mastitis control strategies which minimise farmers’ dependence on antibiotic therapies while ensuring the health and welfare of the dairy cow and the production of high quality milk.
Objective
The overall objective of the study is to develop and promote improved techniques and systems for the control and treatment of mastitis in both organic and conventional dairy cattle. This overall goal would be achieved by means of the following key objectives:

1. To measure the level of mastitis in organic and conventional dairy production systems.

2. To identify predisposing factors that influence the incidence of mastitis and to measure the impact of disease on production.

3. To describe different control strategies adopted by farmers to identify and treat mastitis in dairy cattle.

4. To quantify the production and financial losses due to mastitis and to estimate the cost benefit ratios of different mastitis control strategies.

5. To compare the public health implications of mastitis control strategies employed on organic and conventional dairy farms.

6. To disseminate findings of the study and promote adoption of improved mastitis control techniques by farmers.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1996

To: 1999

Cost: £148,031
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Reading
Keywords
Animal Diseases              
Dairy              
Farming              
Mastitis              
On-Farm              
Organic Farming              
Fields of Study
Organic Farming