A simulation study to investigate the added value in using differential somatic cell count as an additional indicator for udder health management in dairy herds

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Mastitis is one of the most costly diseases in dairy herds worldwide. Somatic cell count (SCC) is widely used as an indicator for subclinical intramammary infections (IMI) that may eventually cause mastitis in dairy herds. Differential somatic cell count (DSCC) has recently been introduced as an additional indicator for IMI. The objective of this study was to investigate the value of using DSCC as an additional indicator to select cows for testing and subsequent intervention for subclinical mastitis during the lactation. We parameterized an existing bio-economic simulation model for dairy herds to include DSCC. Then, we simulated three Danish dairy cattle herd situations with different pathogen distributions where the main pathogens were 1) Staphylococcus aureus, 2) Streptococcus agalactiae, and 3) Streptococcus uberis. In these herds, we simulated two different selection strategies for testing (bacterial culture) for subclinical IMI and various intervention strategies for test positive cases. The first selection strategy considered only SCC; cows were selected for testing if they had a low SCC measurement followed by two high SCC measurements. In the second selection strategy, cows additionally had to have a high DSCC measurement. Results showed that both selection strategies led to a similar net income and to a similar number of clinical and subclinical cases for all investigated intervention strategies. However, when using DSCC in the selection of animals, the number of treatment days and the number of cows culled in relation to IMI was reduced: The median annual number of treatment days was reduced by 25–38 days in herd 1, by 25–42 days in herd 2, and by 30–48 days in herd 3, depending on the intervention strategy. The median annual number of cows culled in relation to IMI was reduced by up to 8 cows (10 cows in herd 3) for one of the intervention strategies. Subject to limitations associated with model assumptions, these results suggest that considering DSCC when selecting cows for testing can reduce IMI related culling and the use of antibiotics without changing in-herd prevalence nor resulting in economic loss.

TidsskriftPreventive Veterinary Medicine
StatusUdgivet - 2020

ID: 247496266