Livestock 2015: Two-year study confirms link between mastitis and fertility

Cows that have mastitis are less likely to get in-calf, findings from a study have revealed.

Boehringer Ingelheim has just completed a two-year study looking into the link between mastitis and fertility and the efficacy of different treatments.

More than 500 cows were involved in the trial, across 10 farms in five different countries, including the UK.

See also: Read more advice on dealing with mastitis

Dairy animals infected with mastitis were either treated with antibiotics and a placebo or antibiotics and the anti-inflammatory Metacam.

The link between mastitis and fertility

What previous studies have shown:

  • Cows that have a clinical case of mastitis two weeks before to one month after AI are 25% less likely to conceive
  • Clinical mastitis cases that develop one week after service can affect successful foetus development
  • Cows with somatic cell counts of more than 400,000 cells/ml are 20% less likely to conceive

Speaking to Farmers Weekly at the Livestock Event, Matt Yarnall, cattle technical manager at Boehringer Ingelheim, revealed preliminary results showed cows treated with antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory benefited from improved fertility.

“Mastitis and fertility are two of the biggest issues affecting dairy farmers.

:There’s more and more evidence that shows a link between the two.”

Mr Yarnall said if a cow is off-colour, it reduces feed intakes and increases her body temperature, which lowers fertility levels.

He added: “At subclinical levels there are chemicals floating around that will affect the ovaries and will reduce the likelihood of eggs being realised in a timely manner.”

Mr Yarnall said using an anti-inflammatory could help mitigate these effects by providing the cow with pain relief.

Full results from the study are expected to be released in September, when information on the efficacy of the two treatments will also be available.

Read more from the Livestock Event 2015