Sustainable milk production

Close up of cow udder. Photo.Healthy udders for sustainable milk production

Project leader: Päivi Rajala Schultz, University of Helsinki

Period: 2018-2019


Mastitis, inflammation of the mammary gland, mostly caused by bacterial infections, is the most common and costly disease of dairy cows and it is the predominant reason for antibiotic usage in dairy herds.

Antimicrobial resistance among human and veterinary pathogens is a growing concern and prudent use of antimicrobial drugs is increasingly emphasized worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) has already used a term “post-antibiotic era”, referring to the dire situation the world is facing in regards to the efficacy of our current antimicrobial drugs.

Additionally, mastitis has a negative impact on milk quality, farm economics and animal welfare and healthy animals are also more efficient and environmentally­ friendly milk producers.

The goal of this proposal is to enhance collaboration and build an active network among Nordic researchers working on bovine mastitis and udder health.

The long-term goal of such collaboration is to support and enhance competitiveness and profitability of Nordic dairy production. This will be achieved through generation of new science-based knowledge in joint Nordic research projects on sustainable and cost-effective management and mastitis control practices which will help in prevention and control of the disease.

This, in turn, will result in reduction of antimicrobial usage and it will ensure production of wholesome and safe dairy products for the consumers. Results from the research will be transferred to the end-users and stakeholders through seminars, workshops and scientific and popular­ press publications.

Close collaborative work and research among Nordic mastitis researchers is especially important in the current competitive environment where dairy industry has been evolving tremendously, with herd sizes growing and use of technology increasing.

Additionally, antimicrobial usage in agriculture is being scrutinized global ly and new legislation has been introduced in some countries to restrict antibiotic usage in animal agriculture, including dairy industry to combat the challenge of antimicrobial resistance. Thus, the Nordic approach to mastitis control with its prudent antimicrobial usage could have plenty to offer to others.

The short-term goals of the proposed network are:

  1. to identify knowledge gaps and research needs related to udder health and milk quality in Nordic countries and
  2. to prepare a competitive grant proposal related to those identified areas and
  3. to prepare a review/statement paper that will highlight uniqueness of the Nordic know-how and experience in control of mastitis in dairy cows including prudent use of antimicrobials.