17 May 2021

Pin Point High Cell Count to Avoid Penalties

Testing milk samples from dairy cows will help pinpoint the high cell count cows in the herd to avoid milk buyer penalties. Monitoring cell counts is vital to ensure that the number of somatic cells does not increase.

Somatic cell count (SCC) is the total number of cells per millilitre in milk. Ideally, an individual cow cell count should be between 100,000 and 150,000. Primarily, SCC is composed of leukocytes, or white blood cells, that are produced by the cow's immune system to fight inflammation in the mammary gland, or mastitis.

Monitoring SCC is important because as the number of somatic cells increases, milk yield is likely to fall, primarily due to damage of milk-producing tissue in the udder caused by mastitis pathogens and the toxins they produce, particularly when epithelial cells are lost.

Somatic cell counts are a long-standing marker of milk quality, impacting shelf life and flavour. A lower SCC is better for cheese production and gives a longer shelf life for bottled milk.  To avoid milk buyer penalties routine milk recording will identify dairy cows with a high cell count.

Find out more about the CIS cell count service.