Assessment and application of new technologies that advance mastitis control, milk quality and dairy food safety.
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Mastitis caused by Mycoplasma bovis is contagious among cows and is untreatable with antibiotic therapy resulting in signifiant milk losses, increased culling and financial losses. This project aims to increase awareness of the mastitis pathogen and identify herds with Mycoplasma bovis mastitis infections and provide technical support to eradicate the pathogen. <P>APPROACH: The major objectives of this project are to: 1) identify farms with Mycoplasma bovis pathogens in milk and develop intervention strategies to eliminate the pathogen, 2) raise awareness of the risks for Mycoplasma bovis, 3) develop a mastitis control program that includes controlling Mycoplasma bovis and, 4) conduct a milk quality workshop to train dairy farmers, veterinarians, and support personnel in the implementation of the mastitis control program on farms. <P>1. Bulk tank survey and eradication program: It is anticipated that there will be a 50% participation rate. Three bulk tank samples will be collected over a 7-day period and analyzed for all common mastitis pathogens and for Mycoplasma bovis. Screening results will be sent to farms and herd veterinarians along with educational information on prevention on Mycoplasma mastitis. Farms with a positive culture will be contacted and further testing will ensue in collaboration with the herd veterinarian. Individual cows suspected of harboring Mycoplasma (for example; mastitis that is resistant to treatment, severe mastitis cases, cows with chronic mastitis) will be sampled. The farm will be surveyed and other potential sites will be sampled and analyzed for Mycoplasma. These will include swollen joints, calf/heifer ear infections, uterine discharges and possibly manure. In conjunction with the veterinarian, a herd-specific eradication program will be established. Follow-up samples will be taken to determine the effectiveness of the program and it will be suggested that the farm conduct a monthly monitor of the bulk tank. <P>2. Development of a mastitis control program for Mycoplasma mastitis: Visits will be made to three or four states that have effective mastitis quality programs that include Mycoplasma bovis. Farms that have successfully eradicated Mycoplasma bovis mastitis and have implemented a control program will be toured and farm owners or managers will be interviewed to discuss their strategies. These strategies will be incorporated in the mastitis control program. A farm owner/manager will be identified and asked to participate in the milk quality workshop. A general mastitis control program will be developed specifically addressing the needs of Connecticut and New England dairy farms. Based on several meetings input will be provided by other research, extension personnel, farmers, and veterinarians. This will provide a base for a mastitis control program that can be tailored to meet the needs of individual farms.