September 1, 2020


Study into Mycoplasma bovis affecting Scotland's dairy cattle resumes


A Rural College (Scotland) disease research that has to be put on hold due to COVID-19 is now resuming and seeking input by Scottish farmers regarding the prevalence of Mycoplasma bovis  in local dairy herds.

M. bovis is an infectious condition that can cause a range of symptoms in dairy cattle including pneumonia and middle ear disease in calves, and lameness and mastitis in adult cattle. It can result in lower milk production, reduced milk quality, poor growth of calves, abortions and infertility.

Infections are often longstanding and difficult to treat as the most commonly used antibiotics are ineffective against the bacteria. Some infected cattle show no sign of disease which can mean individuals remain undetected in the herd and act as a continuous source of infection to the rest of the herd.

Additionally, clinically diseased animals who recover may become carriers of M. bovis and are also a source of infection within the herd.

SRUC Veterinary Services' Jessica Ireland-Hughes, who leads the project, said: "We've been working behind the scenes to enable us to start the project once restrictions are lifted and it is safe to do so. The study will hugely benefit the industry as it will help us gain a better understanding of what farms are more or less at risk from M. bovis and the reasons why."

Participating farms will be asked to submit four quarterly bulk tank milk samples over the course of a year to be tested for the presence of M. bovis and antibodies. They will also be asked to complete a short questionnaire on general herd management practices.

- The Scottish Farmer