Determinants of antimicrobial treatment for udder health in Danish dairy cattle herds

Maya Katrin Gussmann, Kaare Græsbøll, Nils Toft, Søren S. Nielsen, Michael Farre, Carsten Thure Kirkeby, Tariq Halasa

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    Societal pressure to limit the use of antibiotics in livestock production systems, including dairy cattle systems, is consistently increasing. To motivate farmers to reduce antibiotic usage, it is important to understand the factors that determine whether a cow will be treated with antibiotics or not. If farmers' usual practices regarding antibiotic treatments are taken into account, they may be motivated to adopt control measures that can facilitate prudent use of antibiotics and are at the same time cost-effective. In this study, we analyzed database recordings of milk yield and somatic cell count from the routine milk recording scheme, clinical registrations of mastitis and PCR results, and cow factors such as days in milk and parity in relation to antibiotic treatments for 518 dairy herds in Denmark. Farm-wise logistic regressions were used to predict antimicrobial treatment based on these factors. The resulting regression coefficients of 422 herds were further analyzed by principal component analysis and clustering to determine the driving predictors for treatment in different groups of farms. The results showed that determinants that were most important for predicting antibiotic treatments vary from one farm to another. Health indicators such as PCR or somatic cell count were most indicative for treatment on some farms, whereas other groups seemed to depend more on production factors (milk yield) or later culling of the cows. This shows that farmers behave differently and differences can be identified in register data. This information can be considered when developing cost-effective herd-specific control measures of mastitis to promote prudent use of antibiotics in Danish dairy cattle farms.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Dairy Science
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)505-517
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Bibliographical note

    This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (


    • Antibiotic treatment
    • Cluster analysis
    • Dairy cattle
    • Mastitis


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