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Call on dairy farmers for M.bovis study

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is curently urging dairy farmers to help with a project to find out the prevalence of Mycoplasma bovis (M.bovis) in Scottish dairy herds.

Initially the call was put out in February of this year, however due to Covid-19 interrupting processes, the study can now resume. Farms who will partake in this study will be asked to submit 4 quarterly bulk tank milk samples over the course of a year to be tested for the presence of M. bovis and antibodies. In addition they will be asked to complete a short questionnaire on herd management practices.

Photo: Herbert Wiggerman
Photo: Herbert Wiggerman

According to SRUC, M. bovis is an infectious condition that can cause a range of symptoms in dairy cattle including pneumonia and middle ear disease in calves, and lameness and mastitis in adult cattle. It undoubtedly clear that outbreaks are devastating and has a major impact on-farm. As M. bovis can lead to lower milk production, reduced milk quality, poor growth of calves, abortions and infertility.

Infections can be very difficult to treat as the most commonly used antibiotics are ineffective against the bacteria. Some infected cattle show no sign of disease and these will remain in the herd and is a constant source of infection to the herd. Clinically diseased animals who recover may become carriers of M. bovis and are also a source of infection within the herd.

In terms of spreading, this can occur via direct contact, the environment (for example 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.

Also read - Mycoplasma bovis mastitis: Prevention is crucial
Treatment for Mycoplasma bovis-caused mastitis is disappointing at best. Prevention is key.

“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. 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,” said project lead Jessica Ireland-Hughes, from SRUC Veterinary Services.

  • Dairy farmers in Scotland who are interested in the project can contact: mycoplasmabovis@sruc.ac.uk or text 07785 382 371.

Source and more info: SRUC