Identification of potential markers in blood for the development of subclinical and clinical mastitis in dairy cattle at parturition and during early lactation

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  • Secretariat, Department of Animal Health and Bioscience
  • Disease Mechanisms, -Markers and -Prevention
  • Department of Animal Health and Bioscience
Our objective was to identify specific blood markers as risk factors for the development of mastitis during early lactation. We used a subset of cows from a larger experiment that consisted of a total of 634 lactations from 317 cows. Cows were of 3 breeds and ranged from parity 1 to 4. Blood samples were collected weekly from 56 d before expected calving date through 90 d in milk (DIM). Blood was analyzed for several hormones, metabolites, and enzymes, and energy intake and energy balance were calculated. Veterinary treatment records and daily composite milk somatic cell counts were analyzed and used to determine incidence and severity of mastitis in early lactation. Cows were separated into 2 groups: 1) WK0, consisting of cows that developed clinical mastitis (CM), cows that developed subclinical mastitis (SM), or cows that were healthy (H) during the first 7 DIM; and 2) EL, consisting of CM, SM, or H cows during wk 2 through 13 of lactation. Data were adjusted for numerous fixed effects (e.g., parity, breed, season, and DIM) before statistical analysis. The time of mastitis (TOM) was recorded as the DIM in which the first rise in somatic cell count was observed and was recorded as TOM = 0. The time before and after TOM was distinguished as ± n wk relative to TOM = 0. Healthy cows were paired with either a SM or CM cow and the TOM for each H cow was equal to the TOM for its paired SM or CM cow. Data from wk -1 and -2 relative to TOM were analyzed for group WK0 and EL, respectively. For all parameters, SM cows did not differ from H cows from either group. The CM cows had higher nonesterified fatty acid levels and a tendency toward higher β-hydroxybutyrate levels than H cows before mastitis for both groups. For group WK0, glucose was higher -1 wk relative to calving in CM than H cows. For group EL, aspartate aminotransferase was higher -2 wk relative to mastitis in CM than H cows during 8 to 90 DIM. All other variables were similar among CM, SM, and H cows for both groups. Our results indicate that substances in blood, especially nonesterified fatty acids and aspartate aminotransferase, may be potential markers for the risk of mastitis in early lactation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Pages (from-to)5419-5428
Publication statusPublished - 2009

    Research areas

  • mastitis, metabolite, dairy cattle

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