Intramammary antimicrobial treatment of subclinical mastitis and cow performance later in lactation

Bart H.P. van den Borne*, Gerdien van Schaik, Theo J.G.M. Lam, Mirjam Nielen, Klaas Frankena

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to evaluate long-term therapeutic effects of antimicrobial treatment of recently acquired subclinical mastitis (RASCM) during lactation. Quarter-level clinical mastitis (CM) follow-up, composite somatic cell counts (SCC), and cow-level milk yield later in lactation were evaluated using follow-up data from 2 previously published linked randomized field trials. The first trial randomly assigned antimicrobial treatment with any intramammary product or negative control to culture-positive quarters of cows having a first elevated composite SCC after 2 consecutive low composite SCC measurements. Untreated cows that had a second elevated composite SCC at the next measurement and were staphylococci-positive (i.e., Staphylococcus aureus or non-aureus staphylococci) were randomly assigned to treatment or control. Quarter-level CM cases were reported by the participating herd personnel, and milk yield and composite SCC data were obtained from the regular test-day recording. Frailty survival models were used to evaluate the long-term therapeutic effects of antimicrobial treatment of RASCM on quarter-level CM follow-up. Mixed linear regression models were applied to quantify the effect on milk yield and composite SCC. Data of 638 quarters from 486 cows in 38 herds were available for statistical analyses, of which 229 quarters of 175 cows received antimicrobial treatment for RASCM. Antimicrobial treatment culminated in reduced composite SCC levels later in lactation but did not result in different milk yield levels or CM follow-up compared with control cows. Antimicrobial treatment of cows with RASCM should therefore only be considered in exceptional situations given the current focus on antimicrobial usage reduction in animal husbandry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4441-4451
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number5
Early online date1 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • antimicrobial
  • clinical mastitis
  • dairy cow
  • milk yield
  • somatic cell count


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