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Stackyard News Aug 2010

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NMR Introduces New Mastitis Tracker Service

NMR is launching a new Mastitis Tracker service in September and will demonstrate it at the Dairy Event, NEC, September 7/8. A unique service and available to British milk producers, Mastitis Tracker uses advanced technology to allow mastitis-causing pathogens to be identified in preserved milk samples as part of routine cow management and integrates the results with the NMR cell count records.

Hannah Pearse, business development manager,
NMR Group.

Hannah Pearse

“We have offered producers a service for identifying pathogens in the past but it has involved plate culture techniques that require fresh milk samples. But there is always a risk of contamination in fresh samples which in turn hinders the accuracy of results,” says NMR Group business development manager Hannah Pearse. “Now that we can replace this technique and use preserved samples – and provide far more accurate results – we can take mastitis control in our herds to a much higher level.

“The big breakthrough is PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) technology for identifying pathogens that uses preserved milk samples. PCR measures the amount of DNA for each specific pathogen and it can detect many more mastitis pathogens and far more accurately than has been possible in the past.”

The NMR Group invested in PCR technology this year and has been using it for bacteriology testing of bulk milk samples. Following further investments by the Group in logistics and reporting techniques, the PCR technology can now be used on individual cow NMR recording samples. These samples are taken and stored in preservative then used for milk quality testing. Their use has now been extended to PCR bacteriology testing through this latest service.

“It’s the simplicity of the service that appeals to producers and vets,” adds Ms Pearse. “Producers include a Mastitis Tracker test request form in the milk samples at the recording time then once the sample has been through the NMR milk quality testing it is sent on to the PCR lab with minimum delay. Results are reported back through the Herd Companion web site within 24 hours of the sample arriving at the lab or by fax or post.”

PCR Extraction room – sample is placed in centrifuge
as part of DNA extraction process.

PCR Extraction room

PCR testing on milk recording samples is new to the UK but is already part of integrated services in North America and Scandinavia where mastitis management in dairy herds is considered to be more advanced.

The hassle-free Mastitis Tracker service opens the door to more advanced mastitis management for British producers. “It will report trends in pathogens so patterns in groups of cows, such as heifers, old cows or cohorts can be tracked. It will also identify seasonal patterns that we believe are present in many herds.

“Armed with this information, producers and their vets can take a more holistic approach to controlling cell counts. The information will have a bearing on all aspects of herd management such as housing, breeding and drying off routines but in a far more informed, accurate and affordable fashion than has previously been possible.”

Mastitis Tracker costs £13 or £14 plus VAT per test depending on volumes tested. “Although we have seen a significant reduction in mastitis cases in our dairy herd in the past 50 years, it is still a costly disease and it is not easy to eradicate. And there is recent evidence that the improvement in clinical cases has reached a plateau and may be increasing.

We have great support from vets and advisers who are keen to see a more proactive control programmes in place but, from producers’ perspective, such programmes must be straight forward and cost-effective. Mastitis Tracker ticks both these boxes. It is a big step forward in improving herd health and welfare for British milk producers.”

For more information or to order tests contact NMR Customer Services on 0844 7255567 or email Or visit NMR at the Dairy Event on stand BM 226 in the Business Management Zone.

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