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Behavioral and patho-physiological response as possible signs of pain in dairy cows during Escherichia con mastitis: A pilot study

Abstract : Bovine mastitis is one of the most common diseases in the dairy industry and it is a major welfare problem. Pain during mastitis is generally assessed through behavior but a combination of indicators would increase the chances of detecting pain and assessing its intensity. The aim of this study was to assess behavioral and patho-physiological responses as possible signs of pain experienced by cows after experimental intramammary challenge (mastitis) with Escherichia coli. Six Holstein Friesian cows received an inoculation of E.coli P4 in one healthy quarter. Evolution of the disease was assessed using bacteriological growth and somatic cell counts (SCC). Cows' response to the challenge was monitored by direct behavioral and clinical observations, data loggers, rumen temperature sensors, and indicators of inflammation, stress, and oxidative status. From all data recorded, the variables that contributed most to the discrimination of mastitis phases were obtained by factorial discriminant analysis. Baseline levels of all indicators corresponded to values before challenge. Specifically, we weighted data relating to lying behavior by the observations at the same hour of the day before challenge to eliminate the circadian rhythm effect. We identified 3 phases that were discriminated by factorial discriminant analysis with good performance. Nine indicators varied according to the phase of the disease: cows' attitude toward their surroundings, tail position, clinical signs, ear position, variation of postural changes, concentrations of haptoglobin and serum amyloid A (SAA), cortisol blood levels, and rumen temperature (as a surrogate for body temperature). In phase 1 (4 to 8 h postinoculation), E. coli proliferated exponentially in milk but inflammation indicators remained at baseline levels. Cows were less attentive toward their surroundings (median score, 0.63), and postural changes (lying/standing) were less frequent (0.75 times from baseline). In phase 2 (12 to 24 h postinoculation), bacterial concentrations peaked around 12 h and then began to decrease concomitantly with a sharp SCC increase. Cows were less attentive toward their surroundings (score, 0.54), had high plasma cortisol (31.3 ng/mL) and SAA (100.3 mu g/mL) concentrations, and rumen temperature was increased (40.3 degrees C). In phase 3 (32 to 80 h postinoculation), bacterial concentrations decreased concomitantly with high SCC levels. Cows had high levels of haptoglobin (0.57 mg/mL) and SAA (269 mu g/mL) but showed no behavioral changes. Dairy cows displayed changes of behavioral, inflammatory, and stress parameters after E. coli mammary inoculation. Our results suggest that cows may have experienced discomfort in the preclinical phase (phase 1) and pain in the acute phase (phase 2) but neither discomfort nor pain in the remission phase (phase 3). Although larger controlled studies are needed to confirm our findings, this knowledge could be useful for early detection of E. coli mastitis and for decision-making regarding the initiation of pain-relief treatment during mastitis in dairy cows. This would improve animal welfare and potentially faster disease remission.
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Submitted on : Monday, May 25, 2020 - 9:53:11 PM
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Alice de Boyer Des Roches, Marion Faure, Alexandra Lussert, Vincent Herry, Pascal Rainard, et al.. Behavioral and patho-physiological response as possible signs of pain in dairy cows during Escherichia con mastitis: A pilot study. Journal of Dairy Science, American Dairy Science Association, 2017, 100 (10), pp.8385-8397. ⟨10.3168/jds.2017-12796⟩. ⟨hal-02620241⟩



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