Do You Know The Hidden Costs Of Mastitis ?
Mastitis is the most costly disease to the dairy industry. Do you know the hidden costs ?
There are direct costs, those that occur immediately at the time of infection (discarded milk and treatment). But there are hidden expenses such as :
• Risk of Subsequent Health Problems
As its immune system is working to eliminate the mastitis infection from the udder, it puts the cow under oxidative stress, in turn leaving the animal vulnerable.
• Effects on Milk Yield and Quality
However, even if an infection is successfully treated with antibiotics for the clinical symptoms, it can still reduce a cow’s milk yield throughout the rest of its lactation period, and possibly, for the rest of the animal’s life. That is a result of the damage the infection inflicts on the udder’s structure and function at the cellular level.
Additionally, the high quality of milk a cow produces can deteriorate significantly following a mastitis infection. The elevated somatic cell count (SCC) associated with subclinical infection can change the composition of milk regarding the ratio of fat to protein. Moreover, the structure of milk proteins can be altered by a high SCC, which decreases the manufacturing properties of the milk. It, too, has a harmful impact on dairy farm revenues, as lower quality dairy products such as cheese and yogurt have less market value.
Culling cows is never a straightforward decision for any dairy farmer. Whether or not to cull hinges on many factors. If the cow is chronically infected, it poses a significant risk of spreading unwanted pathogens to the rest of the herd. However, if the cow weighs 90 pounds or less, culling it is an unattractive proposition.
• Other Costs
It is recommended that mastitic cows be milked last and with separate equipment, or in the very least, the equipment should be sanitized after use. These recommendations can increase total milking times, thereby increasing labor costs.
Repeated use of antibiotics for chronic infection in any individual cow usually results in decreased efficacy over time. Eventually, it can lead to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogenic strains.
The impacts on the physical and mental health of the farmer. Battling persistent infection, facing potential industry-related penalties, and absorbing income losses are major contributors to stress and depression.
Weighing the total costs mastitis gives farmers a better opportunity to address and minimize them by optimizing control and treatment programs, allowing for increased labor costs, and being financially prepared to absorb curtailed revenues as a regular cycle of business. [source]