The effect of subclinical paratuberculosis (or Johne’s disease) risk status on performance, health, and fertility was studied in 58,096 UK Holstein-Friesian cows with 156,837 lactations across lactations 1 to 3. Low-, medium-, and high-risk group categories were allocated to cows determined by a minimum of 4 ELISA milk tests taken at any time during their lactating life. Lactation curves of daily milk, protein, and fat yields and protein and fat percentage, together with loge-transformed somatic cell count, were estimated using a random regression model to quantify differences between risk groups. The effect of subclinical paratuberculosis risk groups on fertility, lactation-average somatic cell count, and mastitis were analyzed using linear regression fitting risk group as a fixed effect. Milk yield losses associated with high-risk cows compared with low-risk cows in lactations 1, 2, and 3 for mean daily yield were 0.34, 1.05, and 1.61 kg; likewise, accumulated 305-d yields were 103, 316, and 485 kg, respectively. The total loss was 904 kg over the first 3 lactations. Protein and fat yield losses associated with high-risk cows were significant, but primarily a feature of decreasing milk yield. Similar trends were observed for both test-day and lactation- average somatic cell count measures with higher somatic cell counts from medium- and high-risk cows compared with low-risk cows, and differences were in almost all cases significant. Likewise, mastitis incidence was significantly higher in high-risk cows compared with low-risk cows in lactations 2 and 3. Whereas the few significant differences between risk groups among fertility traits were inconsistent with no clear trend. These results are expected to be conservative, as some animals that were considered negative may become positive after the timeframe of this study, particularly if the animal was tested when relatively young. However, the magnitude of milk yield losses together with higher somatic cell counts and an increase in mastitis incidence should motivate farmers to implement the appropriate control measures to reduce the spread of the disease.
- Diary cattle
- Johne's disease