Sub-clinical Mastitis and Associated Risk Factors in Lactating Cows in Nigeria

Sub-clinical mastitis is prevalent among lactating cows in the Nigerian Savannah, according to new research from that country. Prevalence was affected by the cow's age, breed and individual milk quarters as well as milking practices, such as hand washing.
calendar icon 5 September 2012
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Sub-clinical mastitis limits milk production and represents an important barrier to profitable livestock economics worldwide. Milk production from cows in Nigeria is not at optimum levels in view of many factors including sub-clinical mastitis, according to Aminu Shittu of Usmanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto, Nigeria, and co-authors there and the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

In a paper in BMC Veterinary Research recently, they report that the overall herd-level prevalence rate for sub-clinical mastitis was 85.33 per cent (256/300 heads of cows) while the quarter-level prevalence rate of sub-clinical mastitis was 43.25 per cent (519/1,200 quarters).

The prevalence of sub-clinical mastitis was 50.67 per cent, 43.67 per cent, 39.67 per cent and 39.13 per cent for the left fore-quarter, right hind-quarter, left hind-quarter and right fore-quarter, respectively.

The Rahaji breed had the highest prevalence of sub-clinical mastitis with 65.91 per cent (29/44), Sokoto while the White Fulani breed had the least with 32.39 per cent (57/176). A total of 32.33 per cent (97/300) had only one mammary quarter affected, 30.33 per cent (91/300) had two quarters affected, 16.00 per cent (48/300) had three quarters affected while 6.67 per cent (20/300) had all the four quarters affected. A total of 53.00 per cent had sub-clinical mastitis in multiple quarters (159/300).

The risk of sub-clinical mastitis was significantly lower in young lactating cows than in older animals (OR=0.283; P<0.001; 95%CI=0.155; 0.516). The Rahaji breed had significantly higher risk than the White Fulani breed (OR=8.205; P=0.013; 95%CI=1.557; 43.226).

Improved sanitation (washing hands before milking) will decrease the risk of sub-clinical mastitis (OR=0.173; P=0.003; 95%CI=0.054; 0.554).

Shittu and co-authors concluded that sub-clinical mastitis is prevalent among lactating cows in the Nigerian Savannah and that this is associated with both animal characteristics (age, breed and individual milk quarters) and milking practices (hand washing). They added that better knowledge of the environment and careful management of the identified risk factors with improved sanitation would assist farm managers and veterinarians in implementing preventative programmes to reduce the incidence of sub-clinical mastitis.


Shittu A., A. Jamilu, A. Jibril, A.A. Mohammed and F.O. Fasina. 2012. Sub-clinical mastitis and associated risk factors on lactating cows in the Savannah Region of Nigeria. BMC Veterinary Research, 8:134. doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-134

Further Reading

You can view the full report (as a provisional PDF) by clicking here.

August 2012
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