Farmers are being asked to help with a project researching the prevalence of Mycoplasma bovis in Scottish dairy herds.
Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) originally called for dairy farmers to get involved in the project in February but the study is now set to resume after a hiatus during lockdown.
“We’ve been working behind the scenes to enable us to start the project once restrictions are lifted and it is safe to do so,” said project lead Jessica Ireland-Hughes, from SRUC Veterinary Services.
“The study will hugely benefit the industry as it will help us gain a better understanding of what farms are more or less at risk from M. bovis and the reasons why.”
M bovis is spread via direct contact, the environment (i.e. in the milking parlour, feed buckets and teats, bedding), milk, colostrum and semen. Operating a closed-herd policy significantly reduces the likelihood of introducing M. bovis to the herd.
In general, best-practice cleaning and disinfection of calf feeding equipment and of the milking parlour, as well as pasteurising cows’ milk and colostrum, limits the risk of transmission within the herd.
Infections can result in lower milk production, reduced milk quality, poor calf growth, abortions and infertility. It can cause pneumonia and middle ear disease in calves, and lameness and mastitis in adult cattle.
Infections can often be longstanding and difficult to treat, as the most commonly used antibiotics are ineffective against the bacteria. Some cattle show no sign of disease, while other clinically diseased animals who recover may become carriers of the infection.
Participating farms will be asked to submit four quarterly bulk tank milk samples over the course of a year to be tested for the presence of M. bovis and antibodies. They will also be asked to complete a short questionnaire on general herd management practices.
Farms already signed up to the project should receive further information in the coming weeks.
Dairy farmers in Scotland who are interested in the project should email [email protected] or text 07785 382 371.