Saturday, 30 May 2015 16:00

Study update on mastitis vaccine

Written by 

A nationwide study to evaluate the effectiveness of a vaccine in controlling mastitis in dairy cattle is well underway and preliminary results are positive.

Southland veterinarian Dr Mark Bryan spoke about the preliminary data from the study, at the Pan Pacific Veterinary conference in Brisbane.

Mastitis, a bacterial infection of the udder, compromises the production and quality of milk and can impact growth rates and survival, leading to a loss of farm productivity and profitability.

The study, which looks at the Staphylococcus aureaus vaccine Startvac®, includes 8858 cows from 16 farms across three main dairy regions in New Zealand.

Bryan says European studies have shown that commercial vaccines have been successful in reducing the incidence, duration and severity of both subclinical and clinical mastitis.

"This has led to improved milk production, a lower culling rate, has increased the number of healthy cows within a herd, and reduced mastitis-related costs," he says.

"However, we need to assess how the vaccine performs under New Zealand conditions, particularly in reducing the number of clinical cases and Somatic Cell Count (SCC).

"The two key differences in the New Zealand system compared to the European are the seasonality of our industry and its pastorality. Most cows are grazed outside for the majority of the year, on pasture or other crops. However, with changes in intensification, New Zealand's dairy industry is becoming more similar to the European industry every season."

Bryan says that initial analyses indicate a possible difference in the proportion of cows with mastitis between treated and untreated cows (11.5% vs. 13.3% respectively). However, more data and further analysis are needed to judge the vaccine's effectiveness in the New Zealand farming environment.

The study involves the longitudinal effect of the vaccine within herds, placebo effects of taking part in a mastitis trial within a herd, and regional variations between herds.

"We are also looking at farm-level changes in behaviour and the impact on milk quality. Our assumption is that when farmers are enrolled in a study, their behaviour may change," says Bryan.

The study began during the dry period in the 2014-2015 season and will finish later this year.

More like this

Mastitis can milk you dry

Most clinical mastitis occurs over calving, so if you’ve had a good spring, you probably feel like you’re in the clear. 

Treating clinical mastitis

Dr Sean Daly, vet and technical adviser at MSD Animal Health, explains best-practice guidelines for treating cows with clinical mastitis.

Preventing mastitis over calving

Mastitis is the most common disease of dairy cattle and is a significant cause of losses on the dairy farm, explains Dr Sean Daly, vet and technical adviser at MSD Animal Health.

Don’t sacrifice science for ideology

OPINION: Contrary to recent suggestions in the media, there is very little credible research supporting the success of homeopathic treatment of mastitis in dairy cows.


ANZCO makes a $30m profit

Meat company ANZCO Foods recorded its best-ever revenue of $1.7b and a net profit before tax of $30.6m for the year ended 31 December 2019.


M. bovis – we’re making headway

Ministry for Primary Industries chief science adviser, Dr John Roche on the indications New Zealand is winning the fight against Mycoplasma bovis.

Delays ruled out on water reforms

Delaying the introduction of new water reforms was not an option according to the two cabinet Ministers directly involved – Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

$700m for freshwater clean up

The Government has announced a $700 million fund to support the primary sector and other groups in meeting new clean water standards.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Effluent power

Finnish dairy company Valio is on a mission to reduce milk’s carbon footprint to zero by 2035.

What’s in a name?

The man who coined the term ‘Gypsy Day’ is slightly miffed that a term he introduced to New Zealand’s farming…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter