Somatic Cell Count
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Apart from milk culture, individual cow somatic cell count (SCC) is the best method for determining whether cows have subclinical mastitis. Individual cow SCC is the concentration of somatic cells present in milk from all quarters of each cow and reported as cells/mL.
Regular individual cow SCC enables you to monitor udder health of each cow over a lactation. They allow you to assess the contribution of an individual cow to the bulk milk SCC, and provide you with options when deciding your dry cow treatment strategy and culling list.
For information on somatic cell response to different types of mastitis, factors affecting somatic cell count and options for dealing with high SCC cows, see Guideline 12 and Technote 12 below.
To reduce the risk of inhibitory substance grades and grading due to colostrum or high SCC, see Guideline 3.
Check that milk is suitable to go in the vat. Avoid bulk milk grades by finding cows with clinical mastitis or high SCC, and checking milk withholding periods before cows enter the milking herd.
Undetected mastitis is a major cause of bulk milk grades in the first few weeks of supply. Failing to check milk is suitable for the vat when transitioning cows from the colostrum herd to the milkers may result in a grade.
All cows should have their colostrum milk withheld from the vat for at least eight milkings.
For information on methods for diverting high SCC milk from the vat, milking chronically infected animals last to avoid contaminating other cows and Using herd test data to monitor percentage of cows and heifers with increased cell counts after each herd test see Guideline 12.