Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

David J. Wilson


David J. Wilson


Brian Gowen


Kerry Rood


Scott Bernhardt


Allen Young


Mastitis, an infection of the mammary gland, is the most common and expensive animal health problem for the dairy industry and affects every dairy farm to some degree. This disease complex is painful for dairy cows, increases the on-farm use of antibiotics, presents a threat to milk quality and is a waste of time, money and milk production. Each year, the dairy industry loses as much as a billion dollars to mastitis.

Many cows will experience mastitis at least once during a lactation cycle and some animals will develop recurring mastitis episodes in a single mammary quarter. These mastitic quarters can be difficult to manage during the lactation cycle. Cessation of production in the quarter while continuing to milk the other three can be a beneficial management decision in this scenario. However, the current methods available for cessation of lactation in a single quarter are limited. This study investigated the use of casein hydrolysate as a non-antibiotic option for causing cessation of lactation in a quarter.

From this preliminary study we were able to apply our results to another aspect of mastitis prevention, which is the routine use of intramammary antibiotics at the end of the lactation cycle. This management practice is known as dry treatment and is a standard practice in the dairy industry with many years of proven efficacy against clearing infections present at the end of the lactation cycle. Increasing pressure from consumers to decrease antibiotic use in food production animals has caused this practice to come under scrutiny. This secondary study investigated the use of casein hydrolysates as a non-antibiotic alternative to standard antibiotic dry cow treatment.

Overall, these studies demonstrated that casein hydrolysate has some efficacy in inducing mammary involution of a single quarter mid-lactation and also potentially as an alternative dry cow treatment. None of the animals treated in these studies displayed any symptoms of pain or discomfort, and all treated quarters resumed milk production after the next calving. Additionally, all antimicrobial milk tests on treated animals were negative. Casein hydrolysates may be a useful management tool for milk quality and animal health within the dairy industry.