The association between bovine tuberculosis (TB) infection status based on results from the single intradermal comparative tuberculin test (SICTT) and milk production has been described in dairy cows in TB-infected herds in Ireland. The biological basis was uncertain, but could be related to increased TB susceptibility among lower producing dairy cows. In this study, the relationship between somatic cell count (as an objective measure of udder health) and SICTT reactivity (as a proxy for TB infection status) was investigated. Somatic cell counts of TB infected cows, both during and prior to the lactation of diagnosis of TB infection, were examined and compared to non-infected cows. All Irish dairy herds restricted from trading between June 2004 and May 2005 as a result of two or more TB reactors (test positive) to the SICTT were considered for study. Data were collected on 4340 cows from 419 herds. Previous lactation data for the cows were taken into consideration and all lactations on a cow were analysed together with the years of lactations. There was an inherent hierarchical structure in the data, with lactations nested within cows and cows within herds and so a linear mixed model with two random effects was used to describe the data. Milk production (305-day milk yield) was also included in the model as a fixed effect. The results of the study showed that for all lactations and years under investigation, somatic cell counts for SICTT reactor cows when compared to the non-reactor cows were not significantly different. In this study population, TB infection status was not associated with udder health.
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