• The association between herd- and cow-level factors and somatic cell count of Irish dairy cows

      McParland, Sinead; O'Brien, Bernadette; McCarthy, J.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 10/RD/AAQUALITYMILK/TMFRC713 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Somatic cell count (SCC) is an indicator of both udder health and milk quality and is measured at an animal level through national milk recording schemes. The objective of this study was to assess the animal and herd factors contributing to elevated SCC (i.e. poorer milk quality). Test day records (n = 2,658,928) from 519,456 cow lactations obtained between 2007 and 2011 were included in the analyses. Herd factors tested included the geographical region of the herd and production system operated (spring calving or mixed calving system). Animal factors tested included breed, parity and age nested within parity. Four definitions of normalised SCC (i.e. SCS) were considered: 1) average test-day SCS within a 24 hour period (TD_SCS), 2) maximum SCS (peak_SCS), 3) minimum SCS (min_SCS), and 4) average SCS (avg_SCS) recorded across cow lactation; in addition, the proportion of test day records with an SCC count >200,000 (prop_200) or >250,000 (prop_250) within cow lactation were included. Following adjustment for fixed effects, average TD_SCS was 179,308 cells per mL while avg_SCS, and average min_SCS and peak_SCS were 119,481, 50,992 and 298,813 cells per mL, respectively. All animal and herd factors had a significant effect on SCC. Older animals, animals which were younger at calving than contemporaries and Holstein animals had higher SCC than younger alternative breed animals who calved at the median age. In addition, mixed calving production systems and herds in Connaught had higher SCC than spring calving herds in the other regions of Ireland.
    • Evaluation of hydrated lime as a cubicle bedding material on the microbial count on teat skin and new intramammary infection

      Gleeson, David E (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      In two experiments, the effect of applying hydrated lime as a cubicle bedding material on the microbial count on teat skin and new intramammary infection were evaluated. In experiment 1, dry dairy cows (n=60) were assigned to one of three cubicle bedding treatments for a 5 week period. The treatments applied were: Hydrated lime (HL), HL (50%) + Ground limestone (50%) (HL/GL) and GL. In experiment 2, two teat disinfectants products chlorhexidine (CH) and iodine (I) were applied to teats at milking in conjunction with two cubicle bedding materials with lactating cows (n=60) for a sixweek period. The treatments applied were: HLCH; HLI; and GLI. The HL treatment had significantly more teats (P<0.001) with no Staphylococcus spp. or Streptococcus spp. bacteria present compared to GL. There were no differences observed between treatments for California Mastitis Test (CMT) score at calving or somatic cell count (SCC) post-calving. In experiment two, the HLI treatment tended (P<0.08) to have lower bulk milk SCC than the GLI. The average bulk milk SCC over the trial period was 68,000, 54,000 and 83,000 cells/mL for HLI, HLCH and GLI, respectively. The incidences of medium-term teat changes were numerically higher with HLI and there were no differences in the mean hyperkeratosis score between treatments. The mean teat hyperkeratosis scores on day 42 were 2.2, 2.1 and 2.1 for HLI, HLCH and GLI, respectively. The HLI treatment had lower levels of Staphylococcal and Streptococcal bacteria on teats compared to GLI (P<0.001). Hydrated lime could be successfully used as cubicle bedding material for dairy cows if used at the recommended rates with either chlorhexidine or iodine based teat disinfectants.
    • Examining the impact of mastitis on the profitability of the Irish dairy industry

      Geary, Una; Lopez-Villalobos, N.; O'Brien, Bernadette; Garrick, D.J.; Shalloo, Laurence (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Mastitis was identified as a priority disease within the Irish dairy industry by both dairy farmers and industry animal health experts, which led to the development of the CellCheck programme. In order to support this programme it was necessary to understand the extent to which mastitis affects farm profit, processor returns and ultimately industry profitability. To this end, an analysis of the impact of mastitis on farm, processor and the overall industry profitability was carried out. The impact of mastitis on farm costs, farm receipts and farm profitability is presented across a range of bulk milk somatic cell count (SCC) categories from <100,000 to >400,000 cells/mL. A meta-analysis of the relationship between SCC and raw milk composition, cheese processing characteristics and cheese composition was carried out and utilised to establish the impact of mastitis on processor returns. As SCC increased, the impact of mastitis on the volume of product that could be produced, net processor returns, milk price and the values per kg of fat and protein were calculated. The farm and processor analysis were then combined to estimate the impact of mastitis on the Irish dairy industry returns, accounting for both farm and processor costs. The analysis suggests that as cell count reduced from >400,000 to <100,000 cells/mL, overall returns to the farm should increase by 4.8 c/L, including the farm and processor related effects. Nationally, if the cell count was reduced by 10%, it would be worth €37.6 million for the Irish dairy industry.
    • Meta-analysis to investigate relationships between somatic cell count and raw milk composition, Cheddar cheese processing characteristics and cheese composition

      Geary, Una; Lopez-Villalobos, N.; O'Brien, Bernadette; Garrick, D.J.; Shalloo, Laurence (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      The relationship between elevated somatic cell count (SCC) and raw milk composition, cheese processing and cheese composition, was investigated by meta-analysis using available literature representing 45 scientific articles. With respect to raw milk composition there was a significant positive relationship between SCC and the protein and fat contents and a significant negative relationship between SCC and the lactose content. In relation to cheese processing, there was a significant negative relationship between SCC and recoveries of protein and fat. As SCC increased cheese protein content declined and cheese moisture content increased.
    • Understanding and using somatic cell counts to improve milk quality

      Ruegg, P.L.; Pantoja, J.C.F. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      The production of high quality milk is a requirement to sustain a profitable dairy industry and somatic cell count (SCC) values are routinely used to identify subclinical mastitis and define quality standards. The objective of this paper is to review the use of SCC as a diagnostic tool for subclinical mastitis in order to improve milk quality on dairy farms. Mastitis is detected based on inflammation subsequent to intramammary infection (IMI) by pathogenic organisms. Individual cow SCC values are used to detect the inflammation that results from IMI and are necessary to define the prevalence and incidence of subclinical IMI. A threshold of <200,000 cells/mL is considered to be of the most practical value used to define a mammary quarter as healthy. The development of IMI is the most significant factor that influences milk SCC and assessment of monthly values to determine newly and chronically increased SCC can be highly diagnostic for resolving problems with increased bulk tank SCC. Methods to reduce the development of new IMI are well known and adoption of best management practices for milking and herd management have consistently been shown to result in reductions in bulk tank SCC. Implementation of mastitis control programmes can be improved by focusing on three practical recommendations: 1) Farmers should work with their advisors to develop an annual udder health plan that includes clear goals for milk quality. 2) The annual udder health plan should emphasise prevention of new IMI. 3) Farmers must identify and manage chronically infected cows. Proactive management of IMI can be extremely effective in helping farmers produce milk that meets industry standards for milk quality.