University of Vermont


Barlow_Neher Summary

Summary of Project

Integrated bedded pack management and fly control reduce mastitis risk by promoting a beneficial teat skin microbiome.

Principal investigators: Drs. John Barlow and Deborah Neher


Flies (ectoparasites) are a major pest of pastured cattle, reducing productivity (milk production and weight gains) and increasing mastitis risk. The goal of this project is to explore how the insect and microbial ecology of bedded pack housing and pasture may influence ectoparasite prevalence, the dairy cow mammary gland microbiome and mastitis risk on a pasture-based dairy farm. The primary objective is to collect data on the insect and microbial community composition of composted bedded packs and the potential influence of this community on the cow teat skin microbiome of cattle housed on bedded packs. Our specific objectives are; 1) to systematically sample for larval and adult populations of dairy cattle fly pest species, (horn fly, face fly and stable fly), and their potential larval predators in manure collection areas on composted bedded packs and pasture; 2) to quantify seasonal variations in bacteria counts from teat end swabs and mastitis prevalence based on serial aerobic bacteriologic culture; and 3) to systematically sample for microbiome diversity of mammary skin, composted bedding, fresh bedding, pasture soil and insect microbiomes. The use of composted bedded packs for cattle housing is increasing as a cost-effective alternative on both confinement and pasture-based dairy farms, yet the influence of these systems on ectoparasite prevalence and mastitis risk is poorly understood. Our project is relevant to the DCE mission by addressing USDA Animal Health priorities for disease prevention and establishes a foundation of knowledge that might be used to identify biological alternatives for disease control.

Last modified February 03 2015 12:38 PM

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