Ruminant Population Health

Research into bovine mastitis

Over the last 20 years, researchers at The University of Nottingham have made significant contributions to the diagnosis, treatment and control of mastitis in dairy cattle.

Our work has made a notable impact both nationally and internationally, reducing the occurrence of bovine mastitis and widespread antibiotic use, improving cows’ welfare and productivity, and saving the British dairy industry millions of pounds every year.

Spotlight projects

Dry period intramammary infections: the route to selective dry cow therapy

Our initial research identified the occurrence and importance of dry period intramammary infections (IMIs) in dairy cows – and we were the first to use molecular techniques to trace IMIs from the dry period through to lactation.

Subsequent research, funded by the Wellcome Trust, enabled us to clearly define ways of evaluating and reducing dry period infections, reducing cases of clinical and subclinical mastitis. These studies were the first to concurrently examine cow traits, farm facilities and herd management strategies which influence the incidence rate of mastitis in the dry period. For the first time, our results identified workable, non-antibiotic ways to reduce the impact of these infections.

Our research highlighted the importance of selecting appropriate dry cow treatments for individual cows, rather than whole herds. Alongside our earlier work on teat sealants, this has played a major role globally in the paradigm shift away from prophylactic antibiotic dry cow therapy. In fact, in the last 5 years, selective dry cow therapy has become the norm.


AHDB Dairy Mastitis Control Plan (DMCP)

Researchers here at The University of Nottingham designed, evaluated and implemented the Dairy Mastitis Control Plan (DMCP) nationwide, in partnership with Quality Milk Management Services Ltd and AHDB Dairy.

Work began back in 2005, with a carefully structured randomised controlled trial to identify the most beneficial interventions in various given farm circumstances. This new approach also included a novel strategy for evaluating farm infection patterns. Together, these elements were used to design and test the original DMCP, which resulted in a mean reduction in clinical and sub-clinical mastitis of 20% in just one year.

Following further research we refined the initial scheme. These changes helped users to deal with uncertainty about the efficacy of some management interventions and improved understanding of the transmission dynamics of particular pathogens.

To date, the control plan has been used on farms holding more than 20% of British dairy cows. Its uptake is continually increasing and has generated savings of around £5-10m per year for the British dairy industry.

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  • AHDB Dairy
  • Wellcome Trust
  • Innovate

Ruminant Population Health

School of Veterinary Medicine and Science
University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus
Leicestershire, LE12 5RD