Late season bulk milk somatic cell count rises

Late season Bulk Milk Somatic Cell Count (BMSCC) rises are a nuisance. While some late-season BMSCC rises are due to factors in the late lactation, most have their origin in the early lactation.

Check the season to date BMSCC graph from your milk processor. Patterns such as that in figure 1 suggest a BMSCC rise of recent origin, and those in figure 2 suggest the origins of any current rise have been in place for months.

David taking milk samples to test for mastitis

Rises with recent origins can be handled much as you would do in the spring. I.e., strip cows, look for clinical mastitis, hold the affected cows out, take milk samples for bacterial identification, treat the cows and return them to the vat, once the withholding period is passed.

Rises with longer-standing origins are often dominated by subclinical mastitis and require tools such as herd testing or Rapid Mastitis Testing (RMT) to identify affected cows. Franklin Vets can assist with whole herd RMT. Because sub-clinical mastitis can respond poorly during lactation, strategies mostly revolve around identifying affected cows and drying them off with a long-acting dry cow therapy or culling them reducing days in milk significantly.

Taking milk samples for bacterial identification with long-standing BMSCC rises is important.

  1. Some bacterial infections can be addressed during lactation while others can’t
  2. Some bacteria you can treat successfully, some you can’t
  3. The bacteria behind the rise tells you how to avoid the same issue next season.

If you would like to talk through any troubling BMSCC rises, feel free to phone your local clinic.

David Hawkins, BVSc – Senior Farm Vet