Abstract Background The dairy industry has undergone substantial structural changes as intensive farming has developed during recent decades. Mastitis continues to be the most common production disease of dairy cows. Nationwide surveys of mastitis prevalence are useful in monitoring udder health of dairy herds and to study the impact of structural changes on the dairy industry. This survey on bovine subclinical mastitis was the first based on cow composite milk somatic cell count (SCC) data from the Finnish national health monitoring and milk recording database. A cow with composite milk SCC ≥200,000 cells/ml in at least one of the four test milkings during the year was considered to have subclinical mastitis and a cow with composite milk SCC ≥200,000 cells/ml in three or in all four test milkings during the year to have chronic subclinical mastitis. The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence of subclinical mastitis and chronic subclinical mastitis in Finland in 1991, 2001 and 2010 and to investigate cow and herd factors associated with elevated SCC. Results Prevalence of subclinical mastitis in Finland decreased over recent decades from 22.3% (1991) and 20.1% (2001) to 19.0% (2010). Prevalence of chronic subclinical mastitis was 20.4% in 1991, 15.5% in 2001 and 16.1% in 2010. The most significant cow and herd factors associated with subclinical mastitis or high milk SCC were increasing parity, Holstein breed, free-stalls with an automatic milking system and organic production. Milk SCC were highest from July to September. Main factors associated with chronic mastitis were increasing parity and Holstein breed. Conclusions Prevalence of subclinical mastitis in Finland decreased over recent decades, the greatest change taking place during the first decade of the study. Prevalence of chronic subclinical mastitis significantly decreased from 1991. The most significant factors associated with both types of mastitis were increasing parity and Holstein breed, and for subclinical mastitis also free-stalls with automatic milking. National surveys on mastitis prevalence should be carried out at regular intervals to monitor udder health of dairy cows and to study the impact of the ongoing structural changes in the dairy industry to enable interventions related to udder health to be made when needed
To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.