How Much money is lost from high SCC cows?
Dairy producers endeavour to maintain high-quality milk, which contributes to a safe, sustainable food supply. Mastitis also impacts cow health and wellbeing and ultimately the economic success of the dairy. Many buyers offer incentives related to quality milk standards. Thus, a bonus is added to the milk cheque which is a payment for good practices .however this should not be the prime financial reward for reducing mastitis.
Mastitis decreases the capacity of epithelial cells to produce milk, or destroys epithelial cells. Infections, even those that seemingly cause minor (subclinical) increases in somatic cell counts (SCC), will result in lost milk production in an infected cow during her lactation. This loss is a lost opportunity to put real money in a producer’s milk cheque. However, a cow with subclinical mastitis has the same feed, housing, labour, and husbandry expenses whether she is achieving optimal production or losing milk to mastitis. Thus, subclinical mastitis is a “silent” drain on your money.
Mastitis causes damaging inflammation in the udder, even when the inflammation is mild. Beyond the lost payment for quality milk, treatment costs of clinical cases, lower reproductive fertility and reduced longevity and well-being of affected cows, mastitis also causes a negative day to day milk yield loss.
Milk yield loss for a cow commences at any SCC over 100,000 cells/mL The earlier a cow becomes infected in a lactation the greater the milk yield loss. Decreasing new infection rates during the dry and transition period is critical. Yield losses are relative to the cow’s potential. Cows that milk more lose the same percent of milk from mastitis as those that don’t, thus higher-producing cows lose more milk.
The cleanliness of the cow’s environment is closely linked to levels of environmental mastitis. Manure and dirt are a source of mastitis infection. If cows have to walk through a dirty environment then dirt will get splashed onto the udder, belly and tail. To avoid spreading environmental mastitis, a dairy cow’s coat and udder should be kept as clean as is reasonably practical. Cow comfort and welfare are also linked to cow cleanliness. The aim is to examine the main areas impacting on cow cleanliness and the steps that can be taken to promote cow cleanliness
How the cow is managed within her environment has a major impact on levels of environmental mastitis:
• Cows should be provided with a clean environment;
• Cow comfort and welfare should be optimised;
• Cows should not be rushed or stressed by inconsistent handling;
• Udders must be prepared carefully for milking;
• Every milker must adhere diligently to the agreed milking routine;
• Dry cow therapy is less important for the control of environmental mastitis than for the control of contagious mastitis, but is still an essential part of the overall mastitis control strategy
The following checklist contains common measures to promote cow cleanliness:
• Feed to avoid very loose dung which leads to dirtier cows;
• Install cow brushes to improve cow cleanliness;
• Avoid rushing cows when moving them;
• Group freshly calved cows separately;
• Avoid letting cows lie down for 20 minutes after milking to let teats close properly;
• Milk highest yielding cows first to reduce milk leakage;
• Milk cows with mastitis last.
While most cleanliness problems are associated with winter housing and dirty collecting yards, somatic cell counts can remain high in the spring following turnout. You should continue to maintain cow and udder hygiene at grass through:
• Maintenance of roadways and gate-ways;
• Managing supplementary feeding to ensure that dung is not too loose;
• Using electric fences to exclude cows from heavily fouled areas;
• Avoidance of poaching around gateways and water troughs where possible.