A good start is half the work when it comes to management of somatic cell count (SCC) in early lactation. This is according to Stuart Childs, a dairy specialist with Teagasc and Don Crowley, a milk quality specialist with Teagasc.
Stuart and Don outlined six simple steps to follow for SCC success for the lactation ahead.
- Wear gloves – easier to clean and reduces the risk of spread;
- Change liners if you have not already done so to improve liner contact with teats and ensure good milk out;
- Have an antibiotic/colostrum group of cows. This will allow you time to focus on these cows as they are being milked rather than ones and twos in each row;
- Know your enemy – take samples from any mastitis cases before you treat them and get them to the lab as soon as you can. Freeze them if you can’t get them away the day they are collected;
- Teat spray properly – 15ml/cow/milking done correctly ensuring full teat coverage;
- Milk record early (<60 days after first cow calved) and identify high SCC cows. California mastitis test (CMT) these cows to identify the offending quarter or quarters. Milk these last or mark them and disinfect clusters after they have been milked to stop spread.
Mastitis is a costly issue; especially when you take into consideration the cost of treatment, milk lost and if the cow has to be culled – this is a huge loss.
It is important to get on top of SCC issues before they get out of hand, infections spread to other healthy animals and to avoid them continuing into the milking season.
A good start is a very important one when it comes to management of SCC in early lactation. If you can stay in control of SCC in the early stages of lactation, you will set yourself up for the year ahead.