Events of elevated somatic cell counts in high-producing dairy cows are associated with daily body weight loss in early lactation Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The objective of this study was to determine associations between body weight (BW) and body condition score (BCS) variables indicating a more severe negative energy balance in early lactation and events of somatic cell counts (SCC) >250,000 cells/mL and SCC >400,000 cells/mL in dairy cows. We studied lactations from 634 primiparous and 1,086 multiparous Israeli Holstein dairy cows originating from 7 commercial dairy farms. Generalized mixed models with a random herd effect were used to quantify the effects of BW and BCS variables in early lactation on events of elevated SCC. Data were analyzed using 2 different approaches. In the first approach, only first events in a lactation were taken into account, whereas in the second approach, all events in a lactation were analyzed and repeated events from the same cow were accounted for. Although no associations were found between the different BW and BCS variables and first events of elevated SCC, associations were present between these variables and events of elevated SCC when all events were analyzed. The cumulative incidence of a lactation with multiple events of SCC >250,000 cells/mL was 8.8 and 27.7% for primiparous and multiparous cows, respectively. The odds of an event of SCC >250,000 cells/mL were 25% greater for cows belonging to the upper quartile in relative BW loss from calving to nadir BW (loss >12.3, 15.0, and 15.7% for first-, second-, and third- parity and greater cows, respectively) compared with cows losing less relative BW. Odds of an event were 44% greater for cows with ketosis when compared with cows without. The cumulative incidence of a lactation with multiple events of SCC >400,000 cells/mL was 4.1 and 14.3% for primiparous and multiparous cows, respectively. The odds of an event of SCC >400,000 cells/mL were 43% greater for cows belonging to the upper quartile in relative BW loss from calving to nadir BW compared with cows losing less relative BW. Odds of an event were 33% greater for cows with ketosis when compared with cows without. Assuming that extreme BW loss and ketosis in early lactation indicate a more severe negative energy balance, our findings support the hypothesis that greater negative energy balance in early lactation predisposes dairy cows to udder inflammation. Considering the fact that many of the events were recurring, we stress the importance of including all events in the analysis and postulate the possibility of long-term detrimental effects of negative energy balance on udder health.

publication date

  • September 1, 2009