Udder health when drying off and at herd level supported by sensor systems

Sensor systems currently are used to identify cows with signs of clinical mastitis. However, sensor systems have much more potential to support the farmers’ operational management of udder health.

Cows needing attention at drying off typically have an intramammary infection and need to be identified for appropriate treatment as part of a selective dry cow therapy program. Because there are disadvantages to both false positive and false negative alerts, the sensitivity and specificity of sensor systems should be equally high (over 90%). Alerts should be provided at an appropriate time (a few days before drying off) and detection performance should be reasonable.

Monitoring of udder health at the farm level can be done by combining sensor readings from all cows in the herd. Novel herd-level key performance indicators can be developed to monitor udder health daily. Disturbances at the group or herd level can be detected more quickly by utilizing sensor-based key performance indicators. Sensitivity should be reasonably high and because of the costs for further analysis of false positive outcomes, the specificity should be at least 99.5%. Moreover, sensor-based key performance indicators may be used to evaluate the effectiveness of dry cow and lactational therapy.