Off-site rearing of heifers reduces the risk of Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis ELISA seroconversion and fecal shedding in a California dairy herd

Sharif S Aly, Ian Gardner, John M Adaska, Randall J. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The objective of this cohort study was to evaluate whether rearing dairy heifers at different premises than the dairy of origin (off-site) reduced the risk of Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (MAP) infection more effectively than rearing on the dairy of origin (on-site). From 2003 to 2005, 3 cohorts of Jersey heifers were born on a single California dairy, with heifers in the first cohort raised on-site until first calving (n. = 797); heifers in the second cohort raised on-site until approximately 5. mo of age and off-site until about 1 to 2. mo precalving (n. = 791); and heifers in the third cohort raised off-site from d 1 until about 1 to 2. mo before first calving (n. = 797). Cohorts were sequentially enrolled, and heifers were followed until death, culling, or up to 6 yr of age. Heifers were tested annually for MAP infection by serum ELISA and bacterial culture of feces, from lactation 1 until they were 6 yr old, and all mortality and culling events were recorded. Compared with cohort 1, cohort 3 had lower hazards of seroconverting and shedding of MAP in feces, approximately 70 and 38%, respectively. Cohort 2 was not significantly different from cohort 1 for the same outcomes. Mortality hazards were only significantly different between cohorts before first calving, with calves raised completely off-site at lower risk than the remaining 2 cohorts. Additionally, the hazards for culling in cohorts 2 and 3 were only significantly different from cohort 1 after the first calving. To our knowledge, the current study is the first cohort study to evaluate the association between off-site heifer rearing and risk of MAP infection, mortality, and culling. Rearing heifer calves off-site, away from infected adult dairy cows, may have allowed for reduced exposure to MAP in the environment of the calves and, hence, served as a control strategy for Johne's disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1805-1814
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Volume98
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

Keywords

  • Cohort study
  • Off-site heifer rearing
  • Paratuberculosis
  • Transmission risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Food Science
  • Genetics

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