Many producers see an elevation in their somatic cell count during the warm, humid summer months. As those months are coming to a close, now would be a good time to review the groups of cows that are contributing to your somatic cell count and make a game plan on how to deal with them. If you do monthly DHIA somatic cell count testing, we can easily review these reports with you to make the list of cows that fall into each category.

Category number 1 – Cows with a Somatic Cell Count over one million for three or more months in a row.

Some of these cows are looking for a career change, to food service. Cows that have had a high somatic cell count for three or more months in a row are difficult to get cured during this lactation. Evaluate each cow in this list to determine if they are a possible candidate for removal. If you choose to keep them, the best chance for curing them would be over the dry period. Discuss with your veterinarian what the best dry-off treatment would be for those cows.

Category number 2 – Fresh cows with high SCC on first DHIA test.

Looking at that first test, we can evaluate how much the fresh cows are contributing to the herd’s somatic cell count. There is a lot of money to be gained in this area because if a cow calves in with a cell count over 200,000, that is about 1,000 pounds of milk lost in that lactation. If you are seeing more than 20% of cows calving in over 200,000, you need to intervene with dry cow housing, potential dry cow treatments, and fresh cow housing.

Category number 3 – Cows that have been high SCC the last two tests, but were low before that.

These are great cows for intervention. It is most likely that these cows were not clinical, so they have not been treated. I recommend producers confirm the high somatic cell count with a Portacheck test or a CMT test and then culture the positive quarters to see what bacteria are present. Based on those results you can potentially treat those cows with intermammary antibiotics and cure those cows and lower that somatic cell count. This is a list of “new chronic” cows to look at every month.

Category number 4 – Cows that have a high somatic cell count for the first time.

This is a good list of cows to keep your eye on, just to see where the percentage of these cows is. We don’t usually directly intervene and treat based on just one high somatic cell count test. However you do want to make sure the percent of those cows is less than 10% of the herd on a monthly basis.

Now is the time to get that somatic cell count back under control. We would be happy to help you work with your records and determine what cows can use intervention, which ones are removal candidates, and what new prevention strategies can be put in place to prevent another spike in somatic cell count next summer.

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