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This article is part of the supplement: Focus on Bovine Mastitis: knowledge into practice

Open Access Open Badges Review

Nutrition and udder health in dairy cows: a review

D O'Rourke

Author Affiliations

Ortec Consultancy, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7RL, UK

Irish Veterinary Journal 2009, 62(Suppl 4):S15-20  doi:10.1186/2046-0481-62-S4-S15

Published: 1 April 2009


Mastitis is still one of the three main diseases that affects the profitability of dairy farmers. Despite the implementation of the five-point mastitis control programme in the early 1970 s, the incidence in the UK has not reduced dramatically over the past 10 years. A review of the scientific literature indicates that there is a link between nutrition and mastitis in the dairy cow. The major impact of nutrition on udder health is via suppression of the immune system. Cows in negative energy balance are at a higher risk of ketosis and clinical ketosis is associated with a two-fold increase in the risk of clinical mastitis. Trace minerals and vitamins that can affect udder health are selenium and vitamin E, copper, zinc, and vitamin A and β-carotene.

dairy cow; immune system; mastitis; nutrition; trace minerals; vitamins