The somatic cell count in milk is a good and reliable indicator of udder health in dairy cows. Since, penetration of mastitis pathogens into the udder, combined with feeding mistakes made during that while, mediates an increase in somatic cell count in milk.
Consequently, increased somatic cell count in milk is an actual sign of mastitis in cows under practical conditions and such increase should be taken seriously by the breeder/producer by taking the appropriate action as soon as possible. Doing so will allow prediction of the real causes of mastitis in a considerably less period of time while making it possible to avoid new potential infections. In the aftermath, purpose-oriented measures can be taken and the required set of action, performed.
MastiPro - Mastitis Detection System is used to view the early diagnosis of mastitis in cows by analysing milk during every milking cycle. This provides you with the opportunity to take precautions at a an early stage and you can keep your animal away from mastitis..
Measurement of Somatic Cell Count in Milk
There is a high correlation between the number of somatic cells in milk and the health and function of the mammary glands. In this case, the number of cells in milk obtained from animals having healthy mammary tissue is up to 125,000cell/ml depending on the lactation process and lactation number of the animal. In the case of damaged udder tissue, on the other hand, the cell count in milk will increase, as the natural defences of the body are not sufficiently active.
Probable Causes of Increased Somatic Cell Count or Puerperal Mastitis in Cows
Infection in Udder Quarters:
The penetration and proliferation of bacteria into the udder tissue causes a massive increase in the specific defense cells (primarily white blood cells. Thus the count of cells inside milk obtained from the related mammary lobes increases.
Heat stress in summer, long-term animal transports, inadequate milking for more than 12 hours and even pain-inflammations of extremities and increased sensitivity and irritability in some individual animals may cause an increase in the somatic cell count in all mammary lobes.
The Presence Of Mastitis In Previous Lactation:
Bovine Mastitis and the increase in somatic cell count of the milk may persist for weeks and even months depending on the level of damage caused to udder tissue, and in the event of inefficient treatment of the inflammation or infection, increase in cell count of milk can be observed even during the period of next lactation, in some cases.
End of Lactation:
Somatic cell count in milk retains almost the same level during a whole lactation cycle, in cows having healthy udders. Only milk yield decreases rapidly towards the end of lactation and therefore, the cellular concentrations of the milk per every milliliter increases, or, in other words, the cell count per ml of milk increases towards the end of lactation. This is why the cell count in milk of dairy cows having reached at advanced stages of milking are found relatively high, in most cases. However, the rapid increase in the somatic cell count in a udder quarter can be considered as serious evidence of a possible infection.
Number of Lactations:
Recent studies have shown that as the animal ages, there is an increase in somatic cell count due to the number of lactations. For example, while the average somatic cell count was determined to be 200,000 cells/ml in an 8-year-old dairy cow with healthy udder, the number of cells of an animal in the 1st lactation is up to 80.000 cells/ml. These figures are considered as evidence of a healthy udder.
Milking and Improper Milking Procedures:
Every mistake made in application of the milking technique results in damage in udder tissues or endocrine glands. Udder responds to this situation by increasing the cell count in milk. Overmilking and failure to properly adjust vacuuming intensity are the most frequently encountered mistakes. Besides low vacuum may also play an active role in increasing the somatic cell count in milk.