Relationship between udder health and hygiene on farms with an automatic milking system
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Poor hygiene is an important risk factor for reduced udder health. On farms with an automatic milking system, this might even be more important because of the automatic cleaning of the udder. The aim of this study is to identify the relationship between hygiene and udder health on farms with an AMS on farm as well as the cow level. Information on hygiene and udder health was collected on 151 Dutch dairy farms with an AMS. Data collection consisted of a partially open-ended questionnaire, a scoring protocol and data from the Dutch national milk recording system. Stepwise general linear models were used to analyze the relation between hygiene and udder health on farm level. Dependent variables were average SCC, the average percentage of new cows with a high SCC and the percentage of clinical mastitis, all in the year previous on the visiting date. The year average SCC was positively related to the fraction of cows with dirty teats before milking and the fraction of cows with dirty thighs. The year average percentage new cows with a high SCC was positively related to the fraction of cows with dirty teats before milking and the fraction of milkings where teats were not sprayed by the AMS. The year percentage clinical mastitis was positively related to the frequency of replacing the milking filters. At the cow level, hygiene scores of udder, thighs and legs (range 1 to 4, where 1 is clean and 4 is very dirty) were related with the cow SCC from the test day nearest to the visiting date using general linear mixed model. There was a positive relationship between cow SCC and the hygiene score of the udder. The relationship between cow hygiene and udder health is confirmed, also on AM farms.