Quarter-level analyses of the associations among subclinical intramammary infection and milk quality, udder health, and cheesemaking traits in Holstein cows

S. Pegolo, R. Tessari, V. Bisutti, A. Vanzin, D. Giannuzzi, M. Gianesella, A. Lisuzzo, E. Fiore, A. Barberio, E. Schiavon, Erminio Trevisi, Fiorenzo Piccioli Cappelli, L. Gallo, P. Ruegg, Riccardo Negrini, A. Cecchinato

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In this study, we investigated associations among subclinical intra-mammary infection (IMI) and quarter-level milk composition, udder health indicators, and cheesemaking traits. The dataset included records from 450 Holstein cows belonging to three dairy herds. After an initial screening (T0) to identify animals infected by Streptococcus agalactiae, Streptococcus uberis, Staphylococcus aureus, and Prototheca spp., 613 quarter milk samples for 2 different sampling times (T1 and T2, 1 mo after T1) were used for analysis. Milk traits were analyzed using a hierarchical linear mixed model including the effects of days in milk, parity and herd, and bacteriological and inflammatory category [culture negative with somatic cell count (SCC) <200,000 cells/mL; culture negative with SCC ≥200,000 cells/mL; or culture positive]. All udder health indicators were associated with increased SCC and IMI at both sampling times. The largest effects were detected at T2 for milk lactose (−7% and −5%) and milk conductivity (+9% and +8%). In contrast, the increase in differential SCC (DSCC) in samples with elevated SCC was larger at T1 (+17%). Culture-negative samples with SCC ≥200,000 cells/mL had the highest SCC and greatest numbers of polymorphonuclear-neutrophils-lymphocytes and macrophages at both T1 and T2. Regarding milk cheesemaking ability, samples with elevated SCC showed the worst pattern of curd firmness at T1 and T2. At T2, increased SCC and IMI induced large decreases in recoveries of nutrients into the curd, in particular recovered protein (−14% and −16%) and recovered fat (−12% and −14%). Different behaviors were observed between Strep. agalactiae and Prototheca spp., especially at T2. In particular, samples that were positive for Strep. agalactiae had higher proportions of DSCC (+19%) compared with negative samples with low SCC, whereas samples that were positive for Prototheca spp. had lower DSCC (−11%). Intramammary infection with Prototheca spp. increased milk pH compared with culture-negative samples (+3%) and negative samples that had increased SCC (+2%). The greatest impairment in curd firmness at 30 min from rennet addition was observed for samples that were positive for Prototheca spp. (−99% compared with negative samples, and −98% compared with negative samples with high SCC). These results suggest that IMI caused by Prototheca spp. have detrimental effects on milk technological traits that deserve further investigation of the mechanisms underlying animals' responses to infection.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)3490-3507
Numero di pagine18
RivistaJournal of Dairy Science
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2022


  • Prototheca
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Streptococcus agalactiae
  • Streptococcus uberis
  • subclinical mastitis


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