Identification of risk factors for clinical mastitis in dairy heifers.

Research paper by S S Waage, S S Sviland, S A SA Odegaard

Indexed on: 11 Jun '98Published on: 11 Jun '98Published in: Journal of Dairy Science


A nested case-control study was conducted to identify risk factors for clinical mastitis in heifers. Cases and controls originated from dairy herds that were enrolled in the Production Recording Scheme. Heifers that had been treated for clinical mastitis prepartum or on the day of parturition were eligible for inclusion as cases. The controls were heifers that had not been treated for clinical mastitis before parturition, during their first lactation, or during the dry period. In the final analysis, 4256 heifers with mastitis and 67,072 control heifers were included. An increase in the incidence of clinical mastitis in the herd, a decrease in the bulk milk somatic cell count, and an increase in the mean milk yield of the herd were associated with an increased risk for clinical mastitis. The risk varied among regions, and, depending on region, significant influences of both herd size and composition of the diet were observed. Heifers kept on pasture in summer were at a decreased risk for clinical mastitis. Calving in late spring or summer was associated with greater risk than was calving at other times of the year. An increase in age at first calving was associated with increased risk of mastitis. Mastitis was also more likely to occur in heifers leaking milk or in heifers that had a low milk flow rate in the subsequent lactation. For purchased heifers, risk factors were identified in both their previous and current herds.