Managing high SCC in late lactation

The View from Teagasc: High SCC cows should firstly be identified through an individual milk recording, milked last to minimise disease spread and strategically
treated to cure infection.

Late lactation is a perfect time to review what you want to do with these cows for their next lactation, and make decisions in preparation for drying off.

Firstly, do a milk recording in late lactation to:
■ identify cows with high SCC that need to be targeted with dry cow treatment (DCT). Consider drying these cows off early, to give them the best chance of curing and to reduce the impact on your bulk tank SCC;

■ develop a culling list of cows which have had recurring high SCC and mastitis problems and are unlikely to cure – consider culling cows that have had high

SCC for two consecutive lactations; and,
■ segregate high SCC cows. If it is not possible to run them as a separate herd, hold them back and milk them last. This will prevent them infecting other cows.

Do not use antibiotic DCT on cows which you are going to cull immediately. If you treat cows and subsequently decide to cull them, check meat withholding period before sending to the factory.

Finally, once-a-day milking to avoid a super levy situation should only be considered for herds with a SCC <200,000 cells/mL. Once a day milking can lead to an increase in individual cow SCC, making it necessary to dry off high SCC cows early. Further information is available in management note M of the CellCheck farm guidelines.

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