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THE UK is well known for producing safe, quality milk that goes into making products that support healthy diets. However, in the UK and around the world, milk production is set back by the occurrence of bovine mastitis, an endemic disease representing not only a financial and emotional burden for farmers (McLeod 2008, Jansen 2010, Kolstrup and Hultgren 2011), but also a welfare problem for dairy cows (von Keyserlingk and others 2009). Despite years of research and information about the risk factors and management strategies related to mastitis incidence and prevalence, there is still substantial room for improvement, and numerous opportunities to increase the implementation of changes to farm management that could improve the mastitis situation considerably.
Although mastitis is still omnipresent, improvements in mastitis parameters have been made over the years. Farms vary hugely: clinical mastitis rates still exceed 100 cases per 100 cows per year on almost 25 per cent of farms (Bradley and others 2007). While overall levels of clinical and subclinical mastitis have arguably improved, many farms are still experiencing excessively high levels of this disease.
A paper by Down and others (2016), summarised on page 449 of this issue of Veterinary Record, indicates that the evidence supporting certain management changes that may serve to decrease mastitis rates is often well established. Much of this risk-factor literature has been distilled and packaged into the AHDB Dairy Mastitis Control Plan (DMCP), which is well described in this paper and others (Bradley and others 2007, Green and others 2007). Trained plan deliverers can use the DMCP to assist them in advising farmers on strategies to reduce mastitis incidence and prevalence. This role, inhabited mainly by veterinarians, places these advisers at the forefront of knowledge dissemination (Farm Animal Welfare Committee 2011). The literature suggests, …
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