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Practical ways to decrease Somatic Cell Count

Jackson Wright, Dairy
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

November 1, 2012
Practical ways to decrease Somatic Cell Count

Milk production is a function of mammary epithelial cell number and activity. In other words, the more actively producing mammary epithelial cells the more milk produced. When a cow gets mastitis, organisms invade the quarter stimulating an immune response. This process results in damage to the milk producing cells within the gland. Moreover, somatic cells are not exclusively white blood cells. Soma is latin for "body" and somatic refers to "of the body", meaning that somatic cells are cells of the body and actually consists of multiple cell types; including white blood cells, cells lining the milk ducts, and milk producing mammary epithelial cells. As the infection gets resolved the damaged milk producing cells in the udder get replaced with scar tissue, decreasing the milk production potential of the infected quarter. Put simply, as SCC increases milk production decreases (See Figure 1).

The question then becomes how can we practically decrease SCC? Many times the answer lies in the milking routine. Briefly, udder preparation needs to be firm but not harsh. Using the calf as an example, a calf will suck and head-butt the udder until milk is letdown. This cow/calf interaction causes the release of oxytocin into the blood stream. Once oxytocin reaches the mammary gland it acts on the myoepithelial cells to initiate milk letdown. This entire process takes approximately 60-90 seconds. Therefore proper udder preparation should consistently clean and dry the teats while timing attachment of the milking unit with peak oxytocin release. If the milking routine is painful, adrenaline may be released which can counteract oxytocin and prevent milk letdown. Finally, post dipping should ensure complete coverage of the teat. Adequate post-dipping should result in excessive post-dip pooling near the teat end orifice, providing a barrier to entry until the teat sphincter can close.


Often breakdowns occur when the milking unit is attached to dirty or moist teats. Many times this is the result of milking personnel using dirty gloves between cows. Consider this: the recommendation for milking personnel to use latex gloves stems from the fact that bacteria are present on our skin. Using gloves makes it harder for bacteria to "stick". However, if gloves become contaminated with manure they too harbor pathogens. This creates a dilemma because a consistent milking routine can be difficult to maintain if milking personnel are constantly changing gloves. One way to address this issue is to mix rubbing alcohol with water at a 70:30 ratio of rubbing alcohol to water, in a standard spray bottle. This can be used as an effective hand-sanitizer, disinfecting latex gloves that otherwise should be changed. Since this is an alcohol based mixture, this quickly evaporates, making it a practical way for milking personnel to clean their gloves during milking. Similarly, because this can be performed quickly milkers can maintain a consistent milking routine while improving hygiene. This can provide additional incentives for milk quality premiums and improved milk production throughout lactation.


Figure 1 (pdf; 55KB)


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calendar of events

Upcoming Events

Forage Congress

February 27, 2019
10:00 am - 3:30 pm
Mt. Morris, NY

  • Climate Smart Farming Decision Tools
  • Forage Quality to Reduce Purchase Concentrate Cost.  N Management, Guidelines for Grass, Low Lignin Alfalfa, Harvest Schedule
  • Fiber Digestibility & Corn Silage Hybrid Evaluation Using Fiber & Starch Yields
  • Silage Fermentation
  • Inventory & Shrink
  • Producer Panel

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MANURE APPLICATOR TRAINING - DEC Approved Training for CAFO Farms, register by 2/22/2019!

February 28, 2019
9 a.m. - 11 a.m. - Wyo Co Ag Bus Center, Warsaw and 1 p.m. - 3 p. m. Civil Def Bldg., Bath NY

This informational meeting is for all farm owners, family members, and employees who manage their farm's manure. All farms, regardless of size are encouraged to attend. This is a DEC approved Manure Applicator Training that is required for CAFO farms. A certificate will be provided to each farm that participates in the meeting. 
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Raising Healthy Livestock: The Basics of Feeding, Health, and Quality Care

March 2, 2019
10 am - 1 pm
Lockport, NY

Raising livestock can be a rewarding enterprise. There are many things to consider, including what to feed, how to keep them healthy and how to handle them. Cornell Cooperative Extension NWNY Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops Team is holding a workshop for livestock farmers to help address these topics. 
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Announcements

CDL Training Program For Agricultural Producers and their Employees ONLY

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wyoming County, in collaboration with Genesee Valley BOCES, will be offering a CDL Training Program for both Class A and Class B licenses. This course is offered to Farm Owners, Operators, and their Employees ONLY.

Thursday, February 28, 2019, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM (Informational Meeting)
Wednesday, March 6, 2019, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM (Classroom)
Thursday, March 7, 2019, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM (Classroom)
Cost:
Class A CDL=$ 750.00 (Enrolled in Ag Program)
Class A CDL =$ 800.00 (not enrolled in Ag Program).
Class B CDL=$ 600.00 (Enrolled in Ag Program)
Class B CDL =$ 650.00 (Not enrolled in Ag Program)
Checks payable to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wyoming County
Held at CCE-Wyoming County., 36 Center Street, Warsaw, NY 14569

The informational meeting will be held the week before the CDL training session begins, to answer any questions you may have regarding this program and to pick up the required training materials and medical forms. To register, please contact Debra Welch at 585-786-2251 or email djw275@cornell.edu


Wyoming County Pride of Ag Dinner - N Java Fire hall, March 2nd

For more information about the event or to purchase tickets, please contact the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce, 585.786.0307.

USDA to Host 2018 Farm Bill Implementation Listening Session

The listening session will be held Feb. 26, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. in the Jefferson Auditorium in the South Building located at 14th Street and Independence Ave. S.W. in Washington, D.C.

The listening session is open to the public. Participants must register at farmers.gov/farmbill by February 22, 2019, to attend the listening session and are encouraged to provide written comments prior to the listening session. For those orally presenting comments at the listening session, written comments are encouraged to be submitted to regulations.gov by February 22, 2019. Additional written comments will be accepted through March 1, 2019. Comments received will be publicly available on www.regulations.gov.


Three Free Digester Workshops offered through CCE St. Lawrence Co.

CCE of St. Lawrence County is offering three FREE workshops showcasing the research results from our feasibility study of anaerobic digester technology on small farms. The research was conducted by our partners at Clarkson University using the anaerobic digester at the Extension Learning Farm, which is fed both manure from a dairy operation and vegetable waste from our commercial kitchen. The digester heats a small green house that starts our seedling plants. We have a small scale vegetable-only digester as well. The research and program targets small dairies under 200 head, livestock producers, horticulture producers and anyone interested in alternative energy.

Program will be held on December 5, January 7, and March 6. A catered meal is provided at each program. Participants within the North Country Region will be given a $25 stipend to help cover travel costs, those from outside the region will be given $50. To receive the stipend, participants will need to complete a pre/post-test survey.

More information and registration information can be found here: http://stlawrence.cce.cornell.edu/events/2018/12/05/exploring-digester-technology


New Guidance for Mortality Disposal Issued

NYS Department of Ag and Markets has posted guidelines on disposal of livestock carcasses, in response to reports that some rendering companies have halted pickups from farms.

https://nwnyteam.cce.cornell.edu/submission.php?id=761&crumb=dairy|1

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