Drying-off for the spring calving cows is now fast approaching.
A project team of scientists at the Queensland University of Technology is led by Dr Allison Carey who was announced as a Department of Agriculture Science and Innovation Award winner at the ABARES Outlook Conference in Canberra this month.
Her award is sponsored by Dairy Australia which has provided a 12 months funding grant for the mastitis research.
Mastitis has a huge impact on the dairy industry causing productivity losses and necessitating the use of antibiotics.
Research under the Countdown Down Under program identified a gain of $47 per cow from lowering herd cell counts from 250,000 to 150,000.
Dr Carey has been working on science of vaccines development for the past 10 years for both humans and animals, including koalas.
A graduate from the University of Newcastle, she completed her PhD at QUT where she is now a post-doctoral researcher and lecturer.
“There are five main types of bacteria that cause bovine mastitis and the key to getting an effective vaccine will be to cover multiple strains,” Dr Carey said.
The new project will build on knowledge gained from many years of scientific research.
It will focus on two variants of streptococcus bacteria, significant contributors to mastitis.
“Our work has big implications for the dairy industry both in Australia and potentially world-wide,” Dr Carey said.
The project will seek to identify antigens in bovine bone marrow which are reponsible for triggering the cows’ natural immuniity to mastitis-causing bacteria.
“It’s a technique that has been used in the successful development of other vaccines,” she said.
“The aim is to produce a faster response when the animal is challenged by bacteria to prevent mastitis developing.
“It’s an important step on the journey towards a very worthwhile goal,” Dr Carey said.