Field validation of protocols developed to evaluate in-line mastitis detection systems

C. Kamphuis*, B.T. Dela Rue, C.R. Eastwood

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports on a field validation of previously developed protocols for evaluating the performance of in-line mastitis-detection systems. The protocols outlined 2 requirements of these systems: (1) to detect cows with clinical mastitis (CM) promptly and accurately to enable timely and appropriate treatment and (2) to identify cows with high somatic cell count (SCC) to manage bulk milk SCC levels. Gold standard measures, evaluation tests, performance measures, and performance targets were proposed. The current study validated the protocols on commercial dairy farms with automated in-line mastitis-detection systems using both electrical conductivity (EC) and SCC sensor systems that both monitor at whole-udder level. The protocol for requirement 1 was applied on 3 commercial farms. For requirement 2, the protocol was applied on 6 farms; 3 of them had low bulk milk SCC (128 × 103cells/mL) and were the same farms as used for field evaluation of requirement 1. Three farms with high bulk milk SCC (270 × 103 cells/mL) were additionally enrolled. The field evaluation methodology and results were presented at a workshop including representation from 7 international suppliers of in-line mastitis-detection systems. Feedback was sought on the acceptance of standardized performance evaluation protocols and recommended refinements to the protocols. Although the methodology for requirement 1 was relatively labor intensive and required organizational skills over an extended period, no major issues were encountered during the field validation of both protocols. The validation, thus, proved the protocols to be practical. Also, no changes to the data collection process were recommended by the technology supplier representatives. However, 4 recommendations were made to refine the protocols: inclusion of an additional analysis that ignores small (low-density) clot observations in the definition of CM, extension of the time window from 4 to 5 milkings for timely alerts for CM, setting a maximum number of 10 milkings for the time window to detect a CM episode, and presentation of sensitivity for a larger range of false alerts per 1,000 milkings replacing minimum performance targets. The recommended refinements are discussed with suggested changes to the original protocols. The information presented is intended to inform further debate toward achieving international agreement on standard protocols to evaluate performance of in-line mastitis-detection systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1619-1631
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Automated mastitis detection
  • In-line sensors
  • Performance evaluation
  • Standard protocols


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