27 May 2015

Positive early signs in mastitis vaccine trial

7:29 am on 27 May 2015

A nationwide study to evaluate the effectiveness of a vaccine to control mastitis in New Zealand dairy cattle is showing promising early results.

Dairy cow north of Matamata.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Mastitis is a common bacterial infection of the udder which can seriously damage cows' health and hit farmers' incomes through reducing milk production and quality.

Southland veterinarian Mark Bryan said the vaccine, Startvac, proved to be effective at controlling mastitis in European dairy herds, and the trial of about 9000 cows on 16 farms will see how well it performs under the different dairy farming conditions in New Zealand.

"We won't have all the data for another few months but we're monitoring incidents of clinical mastitis, we're monitoring somatic cell counts [an indicator of mastitis infection] at a cow level and at a herd level and the preliminary data we're getting is quite positive," Dr Bryan said.

"We're getting some reductions in somatic cell counts at a herd level. That looks very promising."

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