Management practices from questionnaire surveys in herds with very low somatic cell score through a national mastitis program in France

J Dairy Sci. 2004 Nov;87(11):3989-99. doi: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(04)73539-0.


French dairy herds (n = 534) were enrolled in the National 'Zero Mastitis Objective' Program to highlight management practices characterizing very low somatic cell score (SCS) herds. The herds studied were stratified into 2 groups. The first group (LOW) included herds within the first 5 percentiles and the second group (MED) herds within the 50 to 55 percentiles of herds on the basis of mean SCS for the 36 mo preceding the program. Potential explanatory variables, collected through questionnaire surveys, were analyzed using multistep logistic regression models. Twenty-six variables were significant factors in the final models, in which 18 were considered as primary factors for very low SCS. The probability for a herd belonging to the LOW group was associated with: (1) regular use of teat spraying; (2) herdsman precise in his techniques; (3) less than 1 person-year used at activities other than dairy herd; (4) teat dipping after mammary infusion at dry off; (5) heifers kept in a calving pen around parturition; (6) cows locked in feed-line lockups after milking; (7) dry cows with prepartum Ca restriction; (8) heifers on a nondamp pasture; (9) cows culled when at least one damaged teat; (10) heifers at pasture not drinking water from a river; and (11) disinfecting teat ends with alcohol before intramammary infusion at dry off. The probability for a herd belonging to the MED group was associated with: (1) milking cows housed in a straw yard; (2) checking heifers for mastitis only beginning at 2-wk prepartum; (3) no mastitis treatment when at least one clot was observed in milk at successive milkings; (4) distance of herdsman's house to cowshed >300 m; (5) only dirty teats washed before milking; (6) free access of cows from pasture to cowshed during bad weather; and (7) more than 18% of spring calvings. The variables associated with very low SCS should be applied as part of a thorough mastitis-control program adapted to each herd.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry / methods*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cattle
  • Cell Count / veterinary*
  • Dairying / methods*
  • Disinfection
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Housing, Animal
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / microbiology
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / pathology
  • Mastitis, Bovine / epidemiology
  • Mastitis, Bovine / prevention & control*
  • Milk / cytology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents