More and more dairy producers are lowering somatic cell counts (SCC) in their bulk tanks, but there is always room for improvement, even on the best operations.
So how can you continue the improvements?
1. Keep cows clean and dry at all times. This assures clean teat surfaces and prevents bacteria from entering the teat end.
2. Seek assistance from a qualified dairy professional (veterinarian, mastitis control and milking machine advisers, milk equipment dealer,).
3. Do individual cow SCC tests monthly to help identify herd trends and pinpoint the infected cows.
4. Run a monthly bulk tank culture through a reliable laboratory to find out what kinds of bacteria are causing mammary infections.
5. If bulk tank culture results show a high level of contagious mastitis pathogens (Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus agalactiae, or Mycoplasma), identify infected cows by individual cow culturing. Reduce cow-to-cow spread and remove the high SCC quarters from the milk supply.
6. If bulk tank culture results show high levels of environmental pathogens (non-ag streps, coliforms, or staph species), improve bedding management and pre-milking cow prep. Replace all organic bedding in every stall weekly with clean bedding. Every day, replace the bedding in the back half of the stall with fresh, clean bedding. If you use sand bedding, add fresh, clean sand at least once per week. Keep stalls levelled and remove soiled sand daily.
7. Improve consistency in milking procedures. Include a pre- and post-milking teat dip, 10 to 20 seconds of cleaning, at least 30 seconds of contact time for the teat dip, and a thorough teat end wiping before attaching the milking unit. Ensure all milkers adhere to the same routine to achieve 60-120 second prep-lag time.
8. Include fore stripping during cow prep to identify high SCC quarters and keep milk from those quarters out of the bulk tank. Use a CMT kit
9. Cull chronically high SCC cows that do not respond to therapy.
10. Treat all quarters of all cows at dry off with an approved dry cow intramammary tube.
11. Consider using a dry cow teat sealer. Making sure you use the sealant correctly, it’s there to seal the teat.
12. Provide dry cows with adequate space, ventilation and clean bedding an average of 35% of cows and heifers calve with high SCCs. You need to be below average.
13. Keep cows as cool and comfortable as possible during hot weather, plenty of access to water.
14. Control flies.
15. Maintain milking equipment in good working order. Develop a routine performance check and maintenance program. Replace rubber parts at recommended intervals.
The above recommendations are based on good management skills
Avoiding just one of the above you may not succeed
Lowering cell counts is not an easy task it takes time, persistence and skill.
Ensure all employees know there tasks and why they do them , can they improve ?