Mastitis is the infection of mammary gland, most often caused by bacteria. It is the major health problem of dairy cows, causing vast economic burden due to increased costs for treatment, decreased quality and quantity of produced milk and premature culling of chronically infected animals.

In 2017, Estonian Dairy Cluster (EDC) commissioned the development of technical platform for biosensor system that allows determining three common pathogens causing mastitis in the milk with 20 minutes. Latter was the first completed project of EDC’s four-year development program 2016-2020.

In addition to development of technological solution for quick determination of pathogens and laboratory testing, scientific literary works and patent databases were used to compile an overview of various opportunities suggested for detection of mastitis. Despite abundance of different methods majority of them can only be applied in laboratory environment and the systems in practical use include those that are primarily based on measuring milk conductivity and spectrometric analysis, but do not allow identification of pathogens causing mastitis.
The overview of available methods can be found here (in Estonian).

The second phase of the development work in MAVAS project aims at preparation of device that can be used in farms. To execute the second phase a new project was submitted to Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board (ARIB) in the beginning of 2018. In its decision adopted on 19.06.18, ARIB gave the green light to the second phase of the Dairy Cluster project for development of biosensor for early discovery of mastitis

MAVAS project involves comparison of the results gained from using biosensor with accredited laboratory methodologies, optimisation of measuring methods in various farms, preparation of biosensor prototype and test equipment for performing analyses in farms, and determination of quantitative content of pathogens in mastitis-affected milk. The selection of microbes causing clinical and hidden mastitis is defined on a farm-by-farm basis while considering the pathogen distribution patterns, determined by prototype sensor devices placed in farms in the framework of the project. Such sensors also allow optimisation of the structure of test equipment and give feedback concerning its ease of use under actual operating conditions.

MAVAS project is implemented by Dairy Cluster, companies Kuivajõe Farmer Llc, Kaiu LT Llc and scientific partners TorroSen OÜ and Estonian University of Life Sciences. Works are scheduled from September 2018 to August 2022. Project constitutes a part of Dairy Cluster coordinated cross-border European Innovation Partnership (EIP) cooperation with Finnish ÄLYREHU working group. This is the first instance of cross-border cooperation between working groups of European Innovation Partnership.

Total project budget is 451 039 EUR. Rural Development Programme support is 349 112 EUR and own funding 101 927 EUR.

EDC EIP working group led by the Estonian Dairy Cluster consists in the members of the Dairy Cluster and partners TorroSen OÜ, Animal Breeders Association of Estonia, Estonian University of Life Sciences and the Competence Centre on Health Technologies.

The members of ÄLYREHU EIP working group include: University of Oulu; ProAgria (Finnish network of rural consultants), Finnish companies MTech Digital Solutions, SEMES (manufacturer of silo test equipment), eight dairy farms and one veterinary company

The activities of Estonian Dairy Cluster are supported under measures 16.1 and 16.2 of the Estonian Rural Development Plan 2014–2020.