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Summary

Nine dairy herds (mean size, 149 cows) with bulk-tank milk somatic cell counts of < 300,000 cells/ml and > 80% of cows with Dairy Herd Improvement Association linear somatic cell counts ≤ 4 were selected for study. Each herd was monitored for 12 consecutive months. Duplicate quarter-milk specimens were collected from each cow for bacteriologic culturing at beginning of lactation, cessation of lactation, and at the time of each clinical episode of mastitis. Streptococcus agalactiae was never isolated and Staphylococcus aureus was isolated from < 1% of all quarters. There were 554 episodes of clinical mastitis. During the year of study, the incidence rate of clinical mastitis varied from 15.6 to 63.7% of cows among the 9 herds. Mean costs per cow per year in herd for mastitis prevention were: $10 for paper towels, $3 for nonlactating cow treatment, and $10 for teat disinfectants. Mean cost associated with clinical mastitis was $107/episode. Approximately 84% ($90) of the costs attributed to a clinical episode were associated with decreased milk production and nonsalable milk. Costs of medication and professional veterinary fees per clinical episode varied Significantly among the 9 herds. Three of the herds did not have a veterinarian treat a clinical episode of mastitis during the year of study even though 2 of these herds had the first and third highest incidence rates of clinical mastitis. When calculated on a per cow in herd basis, mean costs of $40/cow/year were attributed to clinical mastitis. Our findings suggest that herds that have effectively controlled mastitis caused by contagious pathogens may still have substantial economic losses as a result of clinical mastitis and that losses and even rates of clinical mastitis may vary considerably among such herds.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association