, Volume 36, Issue 6, pp 581-592

Risk Indicators Associated with Subclinical Mastitis in Smallholder Dairy Cows in Tanzania

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Abstract

Smallholder dairy farmers in Tanzania appear to be unaware of the subclinical mastitis situation in their cows. A cross-sectional study was carried out between June and September 2002 on smallholder dairy herds in the Dar es Salaam region. The study objectives were to establish the prevalence of subclinical mastitis and related risk indicators, and to assess their contribution to the occurrence of subclinical mastitis. Three field procedures based on the principles of herd health and production management were followed: clinical, farm and data inspection. The California mastitis test (CMT) was carried out on quarter milk samples to determine the prevalence of subclinical mastitis. A total of 182 lactating cows from 62 herds were investigated. Clinical inspection indicated that 3.8% of the lactating cows had clinical mastitis. Subclinical mastitis was detected in 90.3% of lactating cows screened. Farm inspection revealed that water scarcity, barn size, residual suckling, single udder-towel and dairy labourers as the most substantial (p<0.05) risk indicators. Although most of the risk indicators studied were not found to be statistically significantly associated with the occurrence of subclinical mastitis, possibly owing to sample size and the presence of confounders, the epidemiological need to address such risk indicators cannot be overemphasized.