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By J. Hamann (Germany) & A. Zecconi (Italy)
Automated cow-side detection of mastitis in dairy cows has been of interest for several years and if successfully adapted to the milking process would have widespread application provided the technology was economically acceptable to dairy industry. Early research on electrical conductivity of milk raised the possibility that conductivity would serve as a marker system and provide the opportunity for automation by incorporating appropriate sensing devices into the milk machine. Two primary applications envisioned were detection of subclinical mastitis, and the early detection of clinical cases of mastitis. A large body of research on the use of electrical conductivity has accrued and while no one system has yet been successfully adapted, the number of research papers on the subject grows rapidly.
This paper presents a survey of the literature and applies scientific principles to the assessment of that literature. The literature is reviewed with regard to those factors in milk, including mastitis, that influence the conductivity of milk, and evaluates electrical conductivity as an indicator of mastitis using meta-analysis.