This study describes the relationship between bovine tuberculosis (TB) and milk yield in TB-infected dairy herds in Ireland. The study had two objectives: to determine whether cows detected as TB reactors (and thus subject to immediate slaughter) were likely to be the higher milk-producing cows, and to determine whether subclinical TB infection was associated with reduced milk production at or around the time of disclosure (detection). All Irish dairy herds restricted from trading between the 1(st) June 2004 and the 31(st) May 2005 as a result of two or more TB reactors by the Single Intradermal Comparative Tuberculin Test (SICTT) were considered for study. The data consisted of 419 herds. Data were collected on all TB reactors and a random sample of 5 non-reactor cows in these herds: a data set of 4340 cows (2342 TB reactors and 1998 non-reactors). Previous milk data for the cows were taken into consideration and thus 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 thus a linear mixed model with two random effects was used to describe the data. The results of this study showed that for all lactations and years under investigation, milk yield was significantly lower for TB reactor cows, with differences ranging from 120kg (2003, lactation 3) to 573kg (2001, lactation 1), when compared to the non-reactor cows.
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