Investigation of the relationship between bacteria counts, bedding characteristics and bedding management practices with udder health and milk quality on dairy farms
High levels of bacteria in bedding (bedding bacteria counts; BBC) are associated with increased bacteria loads on teat ends and, in some reports, with an increased risk for environmental mastitis infections. However, relatively few studies have investigated the relationship between BBC and udder health, and science-based guidelines are lacking to interpret BBC culture results in different bedding materials. Therefore, the primary goal of our study is to conduct a multi-state, multi-herd cross-sectional observational study to describe the relationship between bedding bacteria counts and udder health and to identify cutpoints for interpreting BBC data. A secondary objective is to identify bedding characteristics and bedding management strategies that are associated with lower BBC and improved udder health. In this abstract we present preliminary results that describe BBC in new and used bedding samples collected from herds using new sand (NS), reclaimed sand (RS), manure solids (MS) or other organic bedding materials (OB).