Mastitis, Udder Health, and Milk Quality
Despite considerable research on bovine mastitis the disease still remains an economically relevant problem to the dairy industry. Economic losses are estimated to be approximately $200 per cow per year in the U.S. and these losses are due to reduced production, increased replacement costs, discarded milk, drug costs, veterinary fees, and labor costs. Losses are incurred with both the subclinical and clinical manifestations of the disease. Additional costs that are seldom mentioned are incurred by the processing industry in terms of reduced cheese yields. It has been estimated that economic losses (direct and indirect costs) due to mastitis in the US alone is about $2 billion each year.
While we have traditionally sold mastitis control in producer herds based on increased production of milk and thus, increased producer profits, the need to control mastitis is increasingly driven by consumers of milk and milk products. Large numbers of consumers from all countries of the world are demanding dairy products that are wholesome, nutritious, safe and produced from healthy cows. As a result of the factors, most countries recognize that mastitis in dairy herds is a major contributor to decreased milk quality and many believe that mastitis is a food safety and animal welfare issue.