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Solving mastitis problems on dairy farms

Quick facts

  • Mastitis is one of the costliest diseases on dairy farms.
  • A dairy farm can lose profit through decreased milk yield, treatment costs, discarded milk, premature culling and death, decreased genetic potential and decreased reproductive performance.
  • Maintaining a low somatic cell count (SCC) takes diligence and focus by everyone on the farm.
  • Forming a team of the farm owners, herd veterinarian, key employees and other milk quality experts is key to achieving a consistently low SCC and clinical mastitis rate.

Mastitis is one of the costliest diseases on dairy farms. A dairy farm can lose profit through decreased milk yield, treatment costs, discarded milk, premature culling and death, decreased genetic potential and decreased reproductive performance.

The Mastitis Problem Solving spreadsheets can help estimate annual losses due to mastitis on a specific dairy and contain tools that will help you to troubleshoot and develop a plan of attack.

Trying to reduce somatic cell count (SCC) through treatment and culling strategies alone is frustrating and often futile. Unless you can identify the root cause of why cows are being infected, new cows will become infected and SCC will increase.

Develop a plan

A well thought out prevention and control plan will keep SCC low. Often the best approach to reduce SCC and clinical mastitis is to form a milk quality team. Include on your team your veterinarian, key employees, dairy plant field representative, dairy equipment personnel, Extension personnel, and others you think might be helpful.

Develop a plan for reducing your SCC based on your farm’s information.

Systematically following the steps listed below will result in a faster resolution of a high SCC with less frustration.

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The Quality Counts site contains many excellent resources and tips on improving and maintaining low SCC milk.

Jim Salfer, Extension dairy educator and Erin Royster, DVM, College of Veterinary Medicine

Reviewed in 2020

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