AABP Executive Director Dr. Fred Gingrich is joined by Drs. Andy Lefeld, Justine Britten, and Allan Britten in this podcast brought to you by the AABP Milk Quality and Udder Health Committee. You can find information about the Milk Quality and Udder Health Committee on this page and find all AABP committee resources at this link. The Brittens manage Udder Health Systems with labs located in Washington, Utah and Idaho. Lefeld is a member of the Milk Quality and Udder Health Committee and a veterinarian at Maria Stein Animal Clinic in Maria Stein, Ohio, providing milk quality services to dairy farms.
Mastitis is the most costly disease in the dairy industry with an economic impact estimated at $2 billion annually. Our guests discuss the types of mastitis pathogens and the importance of identifying the pathogens causing mastitis on dairy farms to know if the infections are due to contagious or environmental pathogens. It is also important to obtain diagnostics to the species level for some pathogens. Monitoring pathogens can include bulk tank cultures, individual cow cultures, or string sampling. We discuss how veterinarians can get involved in mastitis diagnostic programs, including setting up and monitoring on-farm culture programs, in-clinic milk quality laboratories or utilizing an outside diagnostic lab. There are several newer technologies that labs now provide including PCR, MALDI-TOF, and chromogenic agars. Veterinarians have the opportunity to assist producers in developing diagnostic programs to manage mastitis on the dairy farm. We also discuss that a diagnostic test should be utilized if the results will alter an intervention, either treatment or prevention.
Antimicrobial sensitivities on mastitis pathogens are not routinely recommended since an antimicrobial sensitivity test is unlikely to change the intervention on the farm due to the limited number of intramammary tubes available and the lack of break points for most intramammary antimicrobials. Finally, it is important for veterinarians to develop quality control programs for both in-house cultures as well as cultures from on-farm programs. One such program is the QMPS program from Cornell University. Veterinarians should discuss with their dairy farmers how they can utilize diagnostic testing as a part of a total milk quality control program.