New educational video reveals the cost of subclinical mastitis, the opportunity of early detection
Dairy producers use early detection strategies to improve milk production, reproduction and SCC
DURHAM, NC — July 24, 2015 — When it comes to subclinical mastitis, there’s a mindset that it’s inevitable, like the common cold. But what if you could see infection earlier, get ahead of disease and realize an economic return?
That’s exactly what innovative dairy producers featured in a new educational video from Advanced Animal Diagnostics (AAD) are doing. By changing the way they detect, treat and manage subclinical mastitis, they are preventing losses before they occur.
Earlier this year, researchers exposed the staggering cost of subclinical mastitis, providing producers with cause to corner the elusive disease. Research presented at the 2015 National Mastitis Council Annual Meeting concluded the cost of subclinical mastitis often is greater than that of clinical mastitis, and a serious health condition responsible for more than 1,500 pounds of lost milk production per cow, among other herd health losses (Kirkpatrick, et al.).
As the industry reacts to the new data, producers are still faced with the challenge: how to accurately detect subclinical mastitis.
“Subclinical mastitis is tricky because you can’t see it with the naked eye,” says Mitch Hockett, Ph.D., vice president of external research and technical marketing at AAD. “At a microscopic level, we can see leukocytes invading the individual mammary gland, meaning inflammation is present and the cow is fighting infection. Today, we can bring this highly-sensitive level of detection to the farm.”
AAD’s QScout® MLD (milk leukocyte differential) test is the only on-farm test that provides a differential cell count of infection-fighting leukocytes, or white blood cells, to accurately detect subclinical mastitis by quarter, in minutes per cow.
Commonly used mastitis tests do not reliably detect subclinical infections, Hockett explains, and therefore disease goes undiagnosed, compromising production, quality and animal health.
“This is a turning point for the dairy industry,” he continues. “With high prevalence in a herd, 15 percent on average, and new information and tools to take action, we can no longer relegate subclinical mastitis to a ‘cost of doing business.’”
Progressive dairies staying a step ahead of mastitis
“When I heard you could catch subclinical mastitis before somatic cells spiked, I was intrigued,” recalls Tom Barley, an owner of Star Rock Dairy, Conestoga, Penn., in the new video
At the 1,400-cow dairy, Barley uses QScout MLD to test cows in the second week of lactation.
“One of the big payoffs is being able to find a herd health problem sooner, giving us the chance to correct it,” he says. “The earlier you find infection and treat it, the higher the cure rate.”
Barley says his long-term goal is to lower herd SCC below 100,000 somatic cells/mL and clinicals below 1 percent.
Meanwhile, John Freund, an owner of Son-Bow Farms, a 1,000-cow dairy in Maiden Rock, Wis., says his early detection success story began with searching for a test that could validate a challenge among first-calf heifers.
“Our first-calf heifers with subclinical mastitis were producing roughly six pounds less than their healthy herd mates,” he says. “That worked out to be 1,800 pounds of milk per cow per year.”
Since implementing an early detection strategy guided by QScout MLD, Son-Bow Farms has closed that milk production gap and reduced infection rates from 40 to 15 percent.
Adds Hockett: “With an accurate on-farm diagnosis we can intervene early, and, as a result, see significantly more milk, improved reproduction and decreased SCC over the entire lactation.”
AAD offers education about early detection strategies
AAD’s own research evidences a big difference between cows diagnosed positive by QScout MLD and given a follow-up treatment and a subclinically-infected “no treatment” group:
• Increased milk production: 1,325 lb. more milk, on average
• Increased milk quality: 115,000 fewer somatic cells/mL
• Improved reproduction: 14 fewer days open and 18 percent fewer services per conception
Hockett, who led the research, says implementing an early detection strategy is a relatively new approach as a majority of dairies rely on visual signs of clinical infection. By then, he says, damage to the mammary gland is done.
“We help producers consistently evaluate udder health and find opportunities,” Hockett says. “More information leads to better decisions and profits. In fact, when treating cows for subclinical mastitis based on QScout MLD diagnosis, producers have seen returns of $50 per cow across all cows tested and more than $240 return per cow for all cows treated.”
To view “Early Diagnosis of Subclinical Mastitis Pays,” as well as a video on integrating QScout MLD test into your workflow and SOPs, visit AAD’s YouTube page.
AAD is working with large commercial dairies across the country to analyze how QScout fits into their operations. For more information or to request a meeting with an AAD field representative, visit www.QScoutLab.com or call 1-855 Q2COUNT.
About Advanced Animal Diagnostics
Advanced Animal Diagnostics (AAD), Durham, N.C., provides livestock producers with diagnostics that improve profitability and empower more precise care of animals so they live healthier, more productive lives. AAD is committed to researching, developing and commercializing the industry’s most reliable, on-farm diagnostic tests, such as QScout MLD for early detection of subclinical mastitis in dairy cows. With its diagnostic offerings, the company aims to empower real-time management decisions that increase productivity, prevent losses, improve animal welfare and protect the food supply. For more information, visit or call 1-855 Q2COUNT.