Firstly, a massive thank you to the 28 farms (picked at random) who assisted us with our Udder Cleft Dermatitis trial earlier this year. Also, to our two harper vet students Veronica and Henry for their hard work collecting and collating all the data.

The project was funded by a research grant and the purpose was to find the prevalence of Udder Cleft Dermatitis (UCD) across a representative group of dairy farms, and to see if there was anything in common between the farms with high levels of disease. UCD is an infection which occurs in the skin next to the udder and is frequently seen on dairy farms. In severe cases, the bacteria can spread to the lungs via the milk vein with potentially fatal consequences, or can cause severe erosions and bleeding from blood vessels in the udder. Until now, no research has been carried out in the UK to assess what proportion of cows are affected and how this varies between farms.

Our vet techs assessed the cows in the milking parlour using an inspection mirror to look for UCD, recording the presence of the disease and scoring the severity. We also recorded body condition, cleanliness and udder conformation of the individual cows. On the herd level, we recorded various factors such as average yield, foot bathing procedures, milking routines (pre and post dip/spray) plus housing comfort and bedding type.

The overall prevalence of UCD was higher than the farmer expected on many farms. This is not surprising as only the larger lesions emitting a foul odour are likely to be noticed even during milking. The prevalence on farms ranged from 1.3% to 26% with an average of 9.7% of cows affected.

Some very interesting results so far! The data is still being crunched ready for full publication next year. The findings will hopefully give some insight into how best to prevent UCD from occurring by reducing or avoiding risk factors.