The perspectives of animal caretakers on udder edema in dairy cattle and the effects of udder edema on parlor behavior in first and second lactation dairy cattle

Okkema, Cora Annette, author
Grandin, Temple, advisor
Edwards-Callaway, Lily, committee member
Román-Muñiz, Noa, committee member
Eilertson, Kirsten, committee member
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Udder edema is a metabolic disorder in dairy cattle that results in lymphatic fluid being trapped in mammary tissues. Severe cases of udder edema can present in the brisket, navel, upper rear legs, and vulva. Known factors associated with udder edema include genetics, nutrition, oxidative stress, and high body condition score. Furthermore, as heifers are developing the mammary system during late-gestation, changes to their physiology are also occurring that influence the presentation of udder edema. Udder edema has been shown to negatively affect milk production, damage support structures of the mammary gland, and increase the risk of secondary diseases, such as mastitis and udder cleft dermatitis. With the concentration of udder edema, two studies were conducted examining dairy caretaker perspectives on udder edema and the effect udder edema has on behavior during the milk procedure. The objectives of the dairy caretaker survey were to 1) capture and evaluate current perspectives on udder edema from dairy caretakers, 2) assess caretakers' knowledge about factors that influence the development of udder edema, and 3) understand what the current monitoring practices of udder edema are on farms. The survey was distributed through an industry magazine and in a dairy exposition's electronic newsletter. A total of thirty caretakers completed the survey. The majority of dairy animal caretakers within the study agreed with the following statements: udder edema is a part of udder health, udder edema is more commonly seen in heifers (93.3%), an industry-standard rating scale would be useful to monitor udder edema (70%), it is important to be trained to identify udder edema (93.3%) , udder edema increases the risk for mastitis (73.3%), udder edema can be managed through nutrition (73.3%), udder edema negatively affects milk production (80%), high genetic milk production potential increases the risk of udder edema (70%), udder edema affects the attachment of the milking unit (90%), udder edema is painful (90%), and that udder edema is an animal welfare issue (86.7%). Currently, there is no validated scoring tool for udder edema. Based on these findings it can be concluded that the caretakers in the study feel that udder edema has a negative impact on the overall wellbeing and productive ability of their cattle. A second study was conducted to investigate the hypothesis that udder edema causes discomfort to dairy cattle during the milking session. Increased sensitivity of the teats due to udder edema may cause cows to show discomfort-related behaviors, such as stepping and kicking. First and second lactation cows (n=376) on two large Colorado farms (>500 head) were observed in the milking parlor during the udder preparation and active milking phase. All cows were visually examined and scored for udder edema at the end of the milking session. The stepping and kicking behaviors were counted to possibly identify if, at any time during the udder preparation or milking phase, cows with edematous udders showed heightened levels of rear leg behavior. First lactation dairy cattle showed an increase in stepping behavior during the udder preparation phase as compared to first lactation cows without udder edema when the milker is physically manipulating the udder (p = 0.0168). Second lactation cows with udder edema had greater step rate than first lactation cows without udder edema during udder prep when the milker was in contact with the udder (p = 0.0215). First lactation cows with udder edema have greater frequency of kick behavior compared to second lactation cows with udder edema during the milking session (p=0.0092). First lactation cows with udder edema kicked off the milking unit more often compared to first lactation cows without udder edema (p=0.0500) and second lactation cows with udder edema (p=0.0017). It was concluded that udder edema can influence a change in step and kick behavior in the milking parlor.
2022 Spring.
Includes bibliographical references.
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udder oedema
milking parlor
dairy cattle
udder edema
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