Oct. 26 2011 05:16 PM

U.S. dairy producers have significantly lowered the average somatic cell at the farm level noted the recently released Dairy Market News.

For the first eight months of 2011, the average somatic cell count (SCC), for all months, has remained under 260,000. Traditionally, the highest SCC month is August. This year, August came in at 260,000. This is the lowest average in the last five years, coming in 35,000 cells lower. While this takes into account only the four federal milk marketing orders included in the Dairy Market News, it is a positive indication that the national SCC is lowering.

scc results by month

What could be causing this drastic decline?
• Closer attention to detail - milk preparation, stall maintenance, herd health?
• Attractive beef prices elevating cull rates?
• Attractive quality bonuses from creameries?

While it might be a combination of several factors, it is a trend that should continue. Delegates at the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments defeated a proposal to reduce the somatic cell count (SCC) legal limit from the current 750,000 cells per milliliter of milk to 400,000 by 2014. While the SCC limit was not lowered, we as producers can take pride in the fact that we value milk quality by lowering somatic cell counts without regulations dictating that we should.

How to address high SCC cows was addressed in our April 10, 2011 issue. Here are a few reminders:
• keep cows and udders clean and dry
• follow a strict milking procedure for pre and post dipping
• identify bacteria by culturing the bulk tank
• dry treat all quarters
• cull chronic cows that do not respond to treatment
• check milking system twice a year using a qualified service provider

Click to see the article in our April 10, 2011 issue.