In temperate climate regions, gastrointestinal nematodes are still widespread in adult dairy cows, but until now there exists no reliable diagnostic tool that can identify herds where the infection interferes with productivity. The objective of this study was to investigate the relationships between levels of antibodies against Ostertagia ostertagi in bulk tank milk and milk production. Bulk tank milk samples of 2553 dairy herds were obtained in spring and 2104 of these herds were sampled a second time in autumn. The antibody levels against O. ostertagi were determined with a milk ELISA and test results were expressed as an optical density ratio (ODR). The effect of bulk tank milk ODR on three different production parameters, kg milk, % and kg fat, % and kg protein was assessed by a multivariable linear regression model on the herds for which production data were available (n = 1063 and 867 in spring and autumn, respectively). The mean and standard deviation for ODRautumn (0.972+/-0.238) were higher than for ODRspring (0.825+/-0.201). Significant negative relationships were found between ODR and milk yield. An increase in ODRspring and ODRautumn from the 25th to the 75th percentile of the available ODR data was associated with a drop in the annual milk yield of 1.1 kg/cow/day, respectively 0.9 kg/cow/day. When a herd's ODR increased between spring and autumn with 0.142, it produced on average 0.4 kg/cow/day less in September than in April, in comparison with herds where the ODR did not increase. A significant negative association was found between ODRautumn and % protein averaged over the period of a year. No significant associations were found between ODR and % fat averaged over the year. When protein and fat production of September were expressed in kg an increase in ODRautumn from the 25th to the 75th percentile was associated with a decrease of 0.037 kg protein/cow/day and 0.042 kg fat/cow/day.
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