VikingGenetics has more focus on improving udder health than any other company in the world and is the leader when it comes genetic level for udder health.
Mastitis causes direct financial losses to dairy farmers no matter where in the world you farm. It reduces milk yield, the milk can be contaminated with antibiotics and unable to be sold, plus associated veterinary and antibiotic labour costs, a higher culling rate and occasional fatalities. To avoid extra charges on dairy farms, prevention of mastitis infection is the best approach. By breeding for higher Nordic Total Merit (NTM), you automatically get fewer mastitis cases in your herd. The Udder health index has the third highest economic weighting in NTM; only production and fertility have a higher weighting.
In the Nordic countries, we use both the direct measure, Mastitis, and the indirect measure, SCC, where the latter is only an indicator of mastitis. Mastitis registrations come from veterinary and farmer records on clinical mastitis. In other countries where Holsteins are more dominant, mastitis cases are usually, and if they are only by farmers, not veterinarians.
Choosing the right bull has a significant effect. In table 1, you can see the number of daughters with mastitis in relation to the bulls index for mastitis resistance.
Table 1: Effect of bulls with different breeding values on an average daughter
| Breeding value
| Mastitis %