Herd-related risk factors associated with the severity of clinical mastitis and the incidence of severe mastitis in German dairy herds


  • Frederik Fredebeul-Krein Roman Catholic https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7034-3098
  • Doris Klocke Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Faculty II, Microbiology, Heisterbergallee 10a, 30453, Hannover, Germany https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8235-5854
  • Stefanie Leimbach Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Faculty II, Microbiology, Heisterbergallee 10a, 30453, Hannover, Germany https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3258-742X
  • Julia Nitz Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Faculty II, Microbiology, Heisterbergallee 10a, 30453, Hannover, Germany https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7006-2093
  • Franziska Preine Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Faculty II, Microbiology, Heisterbergallee 10a, 30453, Hannover, Germany https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6680-3250
  • Nicole Wente Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Faculty II, Microbiology, Heisterbergallee 10a, 30453, Hannover, Germany https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7513-9478
  • Yanchao Zhang Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Faculty II, Microbiology, Heisterbergallee 10a, 30453, Hannover, Germany https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4028-9326
  • Volker Krömker Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Section for Production, Nutrition and Health, University of Copenhagen, Grønnegårdsvej 2, 1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5678-2502


bovine mastitis, severity score, risk factors, severe mastitis, cow-years at risk, incidence


Severe mastitis can result in a range of serious general health complications for the infected dairy cow, including septicemia, which can ultimately lead to death. This cross-sectional study aimed firstly to identify the herd-level risk factors associated with severe clinical mastitis (CM) in the diseased dairy cow. The second aim was to investigate herd-related factors associated with the incidence of severe mastitis in the dairy herd. The study was conducted on dairy farms (n = 58) in Northwestern Germany. In addition to data from dairy herd improvement (DHI) tests, possible herd-related predictors were collected on dairy farms. The most frequently isolated pathogens among all CM cases in this study were coliform bacteria (32.6 %), followed by Streptococcus (Str.) uberis (17.2 %). Mastitis cases in clean dairy herds (in > 80.0 % of the examined udders ≤ 10.0 % of the udder surface was soiled), in dairy herds with > two milkings per cow and day, and in herds with a new infection risk (NIR) during the dry period ≤ 28.0 % in the last DHI test prior to CM were identified as herd-related factors associated with more severe CM in the diseased dairy cow. The group of causative pathogens in mastitis cases was another risk factor positively associated with severe CM in the diseased dairy cow. Mastitis caused by coliform pathogens was more likely to be severe than mastitis caused by other pathogens. The mean incidence for severe mastitis in this study was 4.1 severe cases per 100 cow years at risk. The herd milk protein content based on the average of all DHI tests was significantly associated with the incidence of severe mastitis, such that dairy herds with a lower herd milk protein content < 3.4 % were associated with a higher incidence of severe mastitis.


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2023-09-21 — Updated on 2023-09-27