Udder health investigations in a Hungarian Fleckvieh small-scale herd, related to food safety

Author: Dóra Bekő, Péter Póti, László Bárdos, Ágnes Sramek, Ferenc Pajor


Data about the presence of pathogenic bacteria in the udders of Hungarian Fleckvieh cows and about their milk quality parameters is fairly lacking. The aim of this research was to evaluate the prevalence of mastitis pathogens in Hungarian Fleckvieh milk. This study was carried out in a small-scale (n=20) dairy farm in Pest county, Hungary. The cows were milked twice a day in a milking parlor with three stalls. Milk samples were taken from cows at similar stages of lactation and of similar age (n=14) three times during the lactation (beginning, midpoint and end of lactation) from udder quarters (n=168) at the beginning of milking for analyzing pathogenic udder bacteria, and from fully milked udders (n=42) for analyzing milk composition and somatic cell count. The 42 milk samples were divided into four groups by the type (minor or major) and prevalence of the pathogenic bacteria by udder quarter:
1 – all four udder quarters negative;
2 – minor pathogenic bacterial species in one udder quarter;
3 – minor pathogenic bacterial species in two, three or four udder quarters;
4 – major pathogenic bacterial species detected regardless of the case count.

It was determined that the mean somatic cell count was 123 thousand cells/ml, moreover pathogenic udder bacterial species have been found in 31% (n=52) of the milk samples. In the investigation the mastitis pathogen most frequently encountered was coagulase-negative Staphylococcus (CNS), which was present in two thirds of the positive samples (n=33). Of the major udder pathogens, Streptococcus uberis (n=13) and Staphylococcus aureus (n=2) were detected in the 168 samples. When major pathogenic bacterial species were detected even in one udder quarter, it significantly affected the mean somatic cell count of the milk of Fleckvieh cows. The elimination of pathogenic and spoilage bacteria is important not only from a food safety point of view, but it is also of paramount importance for the production of high quality milk products. Based on our results, milk with a low somatic cell count and of favorable quality can be produced when compliance with appropriate hygienic practice is ensured under small-scale farm management conditions.


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