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Extension > Agriculture > Dairy Extension > Milk quality and mastitis > Time for Spring Cleaning

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Time for Spring Cleaning

Jeffrey K. Reneau

Published in Dairy Star March 11, 2006

Beginning in June of 2003 Minnesota dairy producers began a concerted effort to improve milk quality. This industry-wide Quality Count$ campaign had a profound effect. Minnesota dairy producers succeeded for 24 consecutive months in decreasing the average monthly somatic cell count (SCC). But since June 2005, that trend has reversed as can be seen in the Minnesota DHI SCC graph below. Fueled by the relatively warm and wet weather last summer, fall and even this winter, Minnesota SCC levels are on the rise. It's time for us to do some spring cleaning to get the bulk tank somatic cell count (BTSCC) back on track.

Minnesota DHIA Monthly SCC

What can you do?

Rear Legs and Udder Hygiene

Cows are dirtier in early lactation. Unfortunately this is also the time when they are most vulnerable to getting new mastitis infections because their immune system may be somewhat depressed. Therefore, more intense bedding and stall management should be given to maintain clean and dry stalls for close-up dry cows, fresh and early lactation cows.

University of Minnesota Diagnostic Lab culture records indicate that most of the mastitis in Minnesota dairies is coming from environmental pathogens. That is why the bottom line for reducing Minnesota BTSCCs boils down to hygiene. More effort in keeping cows cleaner and more effort in cleaning teat surfaces prior to milking will always pay off in lowering BTSCC. How about it? Let's all initiate a "spring cleaning" in a concerted effort to get Minnesota's SCC back on track.

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