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NMC’s global impact

NMC publications the core of its influence Contributed by Dairy Today

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ost dairy farmers probably recognize the National Mastitis Council (NMC) as an organization that is centered on preventing and controlling mastitis.

But few, if any, appreciate how ubiquitous the organization is in all aspects of cow health, food safety and milk quality. From the mastitis test results they get back from their veterinarians to the teat dips they apply at each milking to the design of their milking systems, NMC has played a key role over its 50-year history. The organization’s influence has grown from being centered solely on the United States to becoming a truly global force. For the first time in its history, Eric Hillerton, a Scottish Ph.D. working in New Zealand became the first non-North American NMC president in 2011. (Canadian Ann Godkin, president in 2000, was the first non-American to lead the organization.) “NMC started when the world was still a very big place. International contacts were few and very far between,” says Hillerton. “But in NMC’s first decade, the Europeans started to arrive on American shores once again (but not Spanish, Portuguese or Italians this time), and the fruits of the US validation of the UK’s five-point mastitis control plan and significant contacts in machine milking ripened.

Microbiological Procedures for the Diagnosis of Bovine Mastitis, brought consistency and uniformity to microbiological procedures for diagnosing bovine mastitis. Prior to NMC’s recommended procedures, diagnostic lab technicians often relied on training they received in human medicine. “Mastitis organisms are a little more unusual than what you generally find in the human medical field,” says Bob Harmon, with the University of Kentucky. “The quick procedures you would use in a hospital laboratory to identify Staphylococcus aureus, for example, don’t work with bovine isolates because they have hemolytic patterns that are different than human strains. So you have to take the diagnosis a step further.” The original version of the Lab Handbook focused on the treatment of mastitis organisms and sensitivities to various antibiotics. The later edition, published in 1999 and spearheaded by Joe Hogan and his staff at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, focused more on the organisms themselves: who they are, what environmental conditions are conducive to their growth and how to prevent new infections. Veterinary clinics, rather than specialized mastitis labs, were also doing more diagnostic work in the 1990s. “Our revised handbook gave a face to these organisms, what they looked like and how they reacted,” says Hogan.

“NMC started when the world was still a very big place. And it gave veterinarians a way to go back to the producer to teach International contacts were few and very far between.” prevention rather than an after-the-fact, shotgun treatment that might - Eric Hillerton, NMC president, 2011 or might not work. “NMC is now evolving even more rapidly into a truly international organisation,” Hillerton says. “Its true value is being tested as debate becomes more intense on somatic cell count and hygiene standards being key to trade in milk and milk products.” NMC’s greatest contribution is its publications. Written by NMC volunteers, most with specialized industry experience and/or advanced university degrees in microbiology, engineering, chemistry and dairy sciences, the contents of each new handbook, guideline or protocol undergoes an arduous, often tedious journey through the NMC committee structure. Once they survive this gauntlet, the publications often become the dairy industry gold standard for microbiological procedures, milking system design and teat dip protocols. Even government agencies, such as the US Department of Agriculture and the US Food and Drug Administration, look to these publications and NMC as the definitive authority. The Laboratory and Field Handbook on Bovine Mastitis, first published in 1987, a more in depth version of the previously published,

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NMC’s Teat Dip Protocols followed a similar evolution. The US Food and Drug Administration never required efficacy protocols for teat dips (though manufacturers were required to follow good manufacturing practices). As a result, dairy farmers were bombarded with teat dip marketing messages that claimed to control mastitis but had little testing to back up those claims. NMC’s push to establish standardized protocols in the to the 70s and 80s was often met by angry threats of lawsuits from sometimes less than scrupulous manufacturers. Legitimate manufacturers, though they sometimes battled specific nuances of the protocols, welcomed a level playing field. They recognized that their efforts in producing well-researched, efficacious products would win the day over cheap, “bath tub” mixes. NMC’s first set of published guidelines included three protocols: A. Germicidal effectiveness in the lab B. Efficacy in challenge trials C. Efficacy in field trials

National Mastitis Council

NMC Commemorative Booklet  
NMC Commemorative Booklet  

This book is a collection of the past 50 years of mastitis control, milk quality, the history of the National Mastitis Council, personal rec...

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