How Much money is lost from high SCC cows?

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.

Spring Turnout !

Spring Turnout.

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.

At Grass
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.

Teat Dipping: Is Fundamental to Milk Quality


During the 1960’s researchers in the United Kingdom investigated and reported what became known as the first comprehensive plan to control mastitis. This mastitis control plan has been successful since being introduced and is based on the notion that the infection rate of mastitis is directly related to the number of bacteria present on teat skin when the unit is attached to a cow. Teat disinfection is the basis of a mastitis control plan.
The main function of any teat dip is to flush off the milk film that is left on the teats wherever they were exposed to vacuum during milking. Failure to flush off the milk film will result in a nearly perfect food for bacteria to grow on the teat skin before the cows are milked at the next milking. Once the milk film has been flushed off, the teat dip leaves a disinfectant on the skin of the teat to kill any current bacteria. Teat disinfection does not affect existing infections.

Complete Coverage
While it is recommended to cover the teat end and bottom one-third of the teat barrel, this is insufficient. The teat should be completely covered with teat dip. Although teat dip can be sprayed onto teats with a teat sprayer, in most cases, the teat coverage will not be sufficient and uses significantly more solution than proper dipping. The most common failure in most teat dipping/ spraying programs is not adequately covering teats with a good quality germicidal teat dip immediately after milking.
Because the role of teat dipping is to avoid bacteria colonization on the teat skin as well as the teat canal, it is critical to regularly and correctly cover the entire area of the teat that had contact with the milking unit. Teat dip coverage should be checked on a regular basis

The typical use rates for various application methods are as follows: spraying approximately 20 ml per cow, non-return dipper 6 ml to 8 ml, foaming 4 ml to 6 ml.

Think about storage and contaminating the teat dip, leaving lids off containers allowing air to possibly enter the container may have an adverse effect on your solution.

Culling Cows

Cows with chronic mastitis problems act as a reservoir of infection for the rest of the herd, they cost you money in treatment costs and lost milk production, and they spend more time in the hospital shed requiring time-consuming care – increasing your time. Cows that should be considered for culling include:

Cows with persistently high SCCs.

Cows that do not respond to treatment and continue to flare-up repeatedly with clinical mastitis.

Cows with infections that persist in spite of dry cow treatment.

Cows with mycoplasma mastitis.

Of course, other factors must be considered before culling (type of infection, milk yield, replacement options, etc.) but, many times removing a few highly problematic cows will yield big dividends on your SCC report and will be well worth the loss in the long run. Culling should never be considered a substitute for solving the underlying problem with high SCCs or increased cases of clinical mastitis on your dairy. Culling is just one component to a comprehensive mastitis control plan.

Can somatic cell counts get too low?

Can somatic cell counts get too low?

That seems to be a question I receive often from producers who are trying to achieve optimum milk quality.

Low SCC herds usually have low levels of contagious bacteria and limit the spread with good milking procedures and management practices. When these herds do get an infection it is usually environmental. These organisms are opportunistic, not invasive, meaning most animals that get these infections are immune suppressed or stressed, such as dry cows or early lactation animals. Low SCC cows are not more susceptible to environmental organisms, but clinical signs tend to be more visible and grab the attention of producers.

High cell counts cost money. The cost of a high cell count doesn’t just come from the penalties imposed or bonuses foregone when targets are not met; high cell count cows produce less milk than low cell count cows. A high cell count herd will also have more clinical mastitis. So reducing cell count can provide substantial savings – on average, reducing the bulk cell count from 250,000 to 150,000 will result in savings of around £50 per cow per year, most of which comes from a reduction in production of around 0.5L more of milk per day. So cell counts are a valuable tool which can be used to identify a problem, assess the cost of the problem, give a guide as to the solution, and to monitor the response to control programmes.

What is a somatic cell count (SCC)?

When the udder is infected somatic cells from the blood (white blood cells) move to the udder and into the milk to defend the organ against the invading bacteria. Without this response, elimination of mastitis, even mild cases, would be very slow and tissue damage greatly increased.

For an individual cow the ideal cell count is 100 – 150,000. Below 50,000, there is some evidence that cows respond more slowly to infection, particularly with E. coli, so they have an increased risk of mastitis. So as reducing bulk milk below 100/150,000 may increase the proportion of very low cell count cows, it may also increase the risk of clinical mastitis. Nevertheless because of the other benefits of low bulk cell count the answer is not to increase cell count but to maximise immunity (such as by minimising negative energy balance) and to keep the cows in as good an environment as possible

Water Troughs

A major study led by Cornell researchers reveals for the first time that water troughs on farms are a conduit for the spread of toxic E. coli in cattle, which can then spread the pathogen to people through bacteria in feces. The study was published Feb. 7 in the journal PLOS ONE.
“Water troughs appeared in our mathematical model as a place where water can get contaminated and a potential place where we could break the cycle,” said Renata Ivanek, associate professor of epidemiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the paper’s senior author. The hypothesis was then tested in the field – with surprising results.
People commonly acquire infections from shiga toxin-producing E. coli through cow feces-contaminated beef and salad greens. The main shiga toxin-producing strain, E. coli 0157:H7, causes more than 63,000 illnesses per year and about 20 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Though cows carry and spread E. coli 0157:H7 when they defecate, the bacteria do not make them sick.
“Farmers do not see a problem because there are no clinical signs in cows; it is totally invisible,” Ivanek said.
A vaccine to reduce bacterial shedding in cows exists, but the beef industry has little incentive to use it, partly due to cost, and the industry does not benefit from labeling beef as “E. coli safe,” Ivanek said. So Ivanek and a research team of 20 co-authors conducted a study to identify other ways to reduce the bacteria’s prevalence in cattle, which can vary over the year from zero to 100 percent of cows in a feedlot carrying the bacteria, with rates generally rising in the summer.
The researchers ran mathematical modeling studies to see if they could pinpoint areas in the farm where infections might spread between cattle. They found that water in a trough, especially in summer months, could heat and promote pathogen replication, causing more cows to acquire the bacteria when they drink. The researchers hypothesized that frequently changing the water in the summer could keep the water colder, limiting bacterial growth.
On most farms, water troughs automatically refill when they get low enough, and farmers can adjust the water levels so they refill more often. This tact saves water and keeps it fresher while ensuring cows still have enough to drink.
The group ran control trials in a feedlot over two summers. This involved reducing the water volume in troughs in randomly selected treatment pens and leaving the volume unchanged in control pens. They expected that reducing the water levels in troughs would prevent the spread of E. coli. Instead they found that it increased spread; in the treatment pens, the odds of finding shiga toxin-producing E. coli in cows was about 30 percent higher than in the control pens.
“Our modeling studies did pick up the right parts of the system,” Ivanek said, “but the mechanism that we postulated is the opposite from what we thought.”
More study is needed to determine why more water in troughs reduced E. coli in cows, but Ivanek questions whether the lower volume made it easier for cows to swallow debris at the bottom of tanks, or whether a fuller tank reduced E. coli concentrations.
The study will trigger more research on environmental sources of E. coli spread in cattle, Ivanek said.
Next steps include repeating the results in other feedlots, evaluating the effectiveness and cost benefit of using more water to reduce E. coli, investigating how seasons and temperatures play a role in prevalence of E. coli, and understanding the actual mechanisms that led to the results.
Wendy Beauvais, a postdoctoral researcher in Ivanek’s lab, is the paper’s first author. Co-authors included researchers from Texas A&M University, West Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University.
The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health and the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation.

What is Sub Clinical Mastitis?

Mastitis is the most predominant and costly disease that affects dairy cows. Dairy Farmers have been struggling to corner the disease for years, but it continues to be the single major issue for the dairy industry. The ability to spot mastitis early and do something about it can have a significant impact on milk production, milk quality and herd health.

When microorganisms raid a dairy cow’s udder this activates an immune response that results in mastitis, an inflammation of the cow’s mammary gland. Mastitis-causing pathogens can be contagious, spreading from cow to cow, or environmental, coming from dirty or wet conditions in the cow’s living area.

Clinical mastitis infections are those with symptoms like udder swelling or redness that are visible to the naked eye. On the other hand, subclinical mastitis infections don’t cause any visible changes in milk or udder appearance, making it difficult to detect.

Subclinical mastitis infections affect the dairy producer’s bottom line by reducing milk production, decreasing milk quality, and suppressing reproductive performance. Cows with a high Somatic Cell Count (SCC) indicative of subclinical mastitis on the first milk test have an estimated loss in milk production of more than 1,500 pounds per cow, Subclinical mastitis also risks milk quality, preventing dairy producers from getting those valued SCC premiums.

So what’s the big deal about a couple cases of subclinical mastitis? After all, you can’t see any change in the milk and the cows don’t appear to be sick or uncomfortable. Sure, your bulk tank somatic cell count may be higher than you prefer, but there’s not much you can do about that. Besides, when it comes to mastitis, you focus on what’s important — the clinical cases.

This approach couldn’t be more wrong. On average, mastitis will cost you about £200 per cow this year. And for every one clinical case, there are 15 to 40 subclinical cases lurking in your herd. (Subclinical mastitis is defined by cows with a somatic cell count of more than 200,000, but no visual signs of mastitis.) According to researchers, these subclinical cases may account for 70 percent of total milk loss due to mastitis.

Ultimately, to address subclinical mastitis, you must go back to individual cows and find those that need attention or require action.

Farmers generally ignore high cell count cows “If BTSCC (bulk-tank somatic cell count) is pretty good, I’m probably going to ignore a cow with subclinical mastitis unless something breaks
A prime example of when you could ignore a chronic subclinical cow is if her SCC fluctuates between 200,000 and 500,000 from month to month, but she doesn’t break with clinical mastitis.

Set targets with your team
Chronic sub-clinically infected cows should comprise no more than 5 percent of your herd
To help ensure success you should set up a team or at least allow one person to address subclinical mastitis on your farm. You’ll be surprised how much this will help improve milk quality and cow health.
Do not ignore Sub Clinical Mastitis!

Performance management on large dairy units

Some Dairy Farms are now moving into the realm of big business, they have several employees and if people are the greatest creators of value in business, then good performance management are critical for success. Employees must understand what’s expected of them, and to achieve those goals they need to be managed so that they’re motivated, have the necessary skills, resources and support, and are accountable.

Good performance revolves around regular, effective feedback on progress towards objectives. It’s multifaceted, not a technique in itself, and there’s no single best approach. It should align with a business strategy and suit the type of jobs in question.

Daily Routines of Successful business (The Health and Mindfulness Rituals of Success)

Most businesses preach that the key to success is holding employees accountable for their actions; to be successful is all about holding yourself  accountable. You skip the blame and complain game, and make things happen despite major obstacles.

Generosity, Respect, Integrity, and Truth, with accountability being a major component of integrity.

No accountability, person totally unaware of failures. These are employees, managers, who don’t have a clue about what is required or the devastation they leave behind. Usually these people think they are doing a great job, and are totally oblivious. “why am I cleaning the beds Four times a day ?” they know the beds are being cleaned but don’t know why , simple but true .

Use blame and complain in lieu of accepting accountability. Some business people always play the victim, finding someone or some natural force as the cause for all their failures. An example of this would be finger pointing.

People deliver excuses rather than results. It’s easy for an employee to convince themselves that they would have been successful if they had more time, received more help, or had the proper training to do the job. Usually the real culprit is no action, lack of focus,

The next step is to accept ownership and responsibility.

Apply known solutions to predictable tasks and challenges.

Before you start assessing accountability in others, it usually pays to take a hard look at yourself in the mirror.

Effective performance should be frank, yet supportive , conversations that include ongoing feedback.

An example of poor management is not listening to employees when issues arise , the herd cell count has risen dramatically , this is a team effort on a large dairy unit , not the fault of one individual .

Latest Research from USA

The major aspects influencing parlour throughput: How fast cows enter the parlour How soon units are attached How soon peak flow rate is achieved after unit attachment How soon units are detached
Milking Phases The milk flow during the milking of a properly stimulated individual cow can be speculated as having 5 phases .
Phase 0 – Start-up from attach to first flow – cisternal emptying?
Phase 1 – Rise up from first flow to peak flow
Phase 2 – Peak flow: peak (plateau) milk flow
Phase 3 – Slope down post-peak, still above take-off settings
Phase 4 – Dribble waiting for take-off to function
Take-Off Settings
The ability to adjust take-off settings varies from manufacturers. There are two general settings: minimum flow before automatic detachment and maximum time before detach.
Because of the difference among the manufacturers The National Mastitis Council is looking for a standard definition for unit-on-time, peak flow, duration of time in low flow, and a standardized method of evaluating take-offs.
Currently, we use the following:
Unit-on-time Total vacuum-on duration (not dump-to-dump)
Peak flow Average flow rate (total yield) during the second minute
Time is low flow Total duration with flow less than 1 kg per minute
Operation of Automatic Cluster Remover
Decrease the take-off wait time to 5 second, and then make gradual increases in the take-off flow rates. If the maximum unit-on-time can be controlled, starting at 10 minutes is probably safe. Some manufacturers do not have this- facility Continue decreasing maximum unit-on time and increasing take-off flow rates on a weekly basis until no further improvement is seen. Eventually, once the proper functioning of the take-offs has been substantiated, the milking vacuum level can slowly be raised.

Latest News from USA

Federal Milk Market Administrator U.S. Department of Agriculture

2015 to 2016 Somatic cell counts (SCCs) continued to decline in the four Federal Milk Marketing Orders which monitor SCCs and report results, according to a report in the Upper Midwest Dairy News

The state with the lowest BTSCC was Wyoming, which had an average of just 125,000 cells/mL. Wyoming dairies included in the summary have had cell counts below 150,000 for at least the last six years. Michigan had the next lowest BTSCC average at 157,000. Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin were all below 200,000. Monitored milk from 24,131 producers
Maximum BTSCC levels for other countries include 400,000 cells/mL in the European Union (EU), Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Although there has been increasing support in the last few years for lowering the maximum BTSCC for Grade milk in the U.S. to 400,000 cells/mL, no changes have been made to the PMO Since the Mid-West imposed a 400.000 from 750.000 the Average cell count has dropped significantly.

I was glad to hear that one of the Scheduled Monthly monitoring of testing the milking machine along with monthly cow health management.

The Milking Machines were tested regularly at least every three months.