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Milk losses linked to mastitis treatments at dairy farms with automatic milking systems

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Mastitis-associated milk losses in dairy cows have a massive impact on farm profitability and sustainability. In this study, we analyzed milk losses from 4 553 treated mastitis cases as recorded via treatment registers at 41 AMS dairy farms. Milk losses were estimated based on the difference between the expected and the actual production. To estimate the unperturbed lactation curve, we applied an iterative procedure using the Wood model and a variance-dependent threshold on the milk yield residuals. We calculated milk losses both in a fixed window around the first treatment day of each mastitis case and in the perturbations corresponding to this day, at the cow level as well as at the quarter level. In a fixed time window of day-5 to 30 around the first treatment, the absolute median milk losses per case were 101.5 kg, highly dependent on the parity and the lactation stage with absolute milk losses being highest in multiparous cows and at peak lactation. Relative milk losses expressed in percentage were highest on the first treatment day, and full recovery was often not reached within 30 days from treatment onset. In 62 % of the cases, we found a perturbation in milk yield at the cow level at the time of treatment. On average, perturbations started 8.7 days before the first treatment and median absolute milk losses increased to 128 kg of milk per perturbation. Mastitis is not expected to have equal effects on the four quarters so this study additionally investigated losses in the individual udder quarters. We used a data-based method leveraging milk yield and electrical conductivity to project the presumably inflamed quarter. Next, we compared losses with the average of presumably non-inflamed quarters. Median absolute losses in a fixed 36-day window around treatment varied between 50.2 kg for front and 59.3 kg for hind inflamed quarters compared to respectively 24.7 and 26.3 kg for the median losses in the non-inflamed quarters. Also here, these losses differed between lactation stages and parities. Expressed proportionally to expected yield, the relative median milk losses in inflamed quarters on the treatment day were 20 % higher in inflamed quarters with a higher variability and slower recovery. In 86 % of the treated mastitis cases, at least one perturbation was found at the quarter level. This analysis confirms the high impact of mastitis on milk production, and the large variation between quarter losses illustrates the potential of quarter analysis for on-farm monitoring at farms with an automated milking system.
ISSN: 1873-1716
Volume: 194
Publication year:2021