Mastitis is a common and costly production disease on dairy farms. In Canada, the incidence rate of clinical mastitis (IRCM) has been determined for conventionally managed dairy farms; however, no studies to date have assessed rates in organically managed systems. The objectives of this observational study were (1) to determine the producer-reported IRCM and predominant pathogen types on conventional and organic dairy farms in Southern Ontario, Canada, and (2) to evaluate the association of both mean overall IRCM and pathogen-specific IRCM with management system, housing type, and pasture access. Data from 59 dairy farms in Southern Ontario, Canada, distributed across conventional (n = 41) and organic management (n = 18) systems, were collected from April 2011 to May 2012. In addition to management system, farms were categorized by housing method (loose or tie-stall) and pasture access for lactating cows. Participating producers identified and collected samples from 936 cases of clinical mastitis. The most frequently isolated mastitis pathogens were coagulase-negative staphylococci, Bacillus spp., Streptococcus spp., Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli. The IRCM was higher on conventional farms than organic (23.7 vs. 13.2 cases per 100 cow-years) and was not associated with housing type (loose or tie-stall), pasture access, or herd-average milk yield. Bulk tank somatic cell count tended to be lower on conventional farms than organic (222,000 vs. 272,000 cells/mL). Pathogen-specific IRCM attributed to Staph. aureus, Bacillus spp., and E. coli was greater on conventional than organic farms, but was not associated with housing or any other factors. In conclusion, organic management was associated with reduced overall and pathogen-specific IRCM.
Levison, L., Miller-Cushon, E., Tucker, A., Bergeron, R., Leslie, K., Barkema, H., DeVries, T., Incidence rate of pathogen-specific clinical mastitis on conventional and organic Canadian dairy farms, Journal of Dairy Science, Volume: 99 Issue: 2 Pages: 1341-1350 Published: FEB 2016.