There are a whole lot of reasons why a cow's somatic cell count (SCC) may be on the rise. Farmers would like to find blame with Water, Grain mix, minerals, etc. when actually SCC is 90% management and environmental. Two of the major areas that cause somatic cell issues are Poor Bedding/Wet Ground Conditions and Stress. These two areas are often overlooked, but these are the things that will weaken the immune system allowing for higher SCC. It reduces the cow’s ability to fight off infections. Some of the major areas we look at are:
Poor Bedding/Wet Ground Conditions:o Too wet - the ground has a high moisture content this will allow bacteria to breed and infect the cow.
o Manure similar to the ground moisture – if the bedding area isn’t properly cleaned it will also breed bacteria
o Dripped milk on bed – again milk residue on the cow beds in the barn will definitely increase the chances of SCC
o Moldy bedding
o Not enough bedding
o Flies will carry bacteria from teat to teat.
o Improper milking procedures – prewash and post dip
o Inconsistent or too high or low of milking vacuum
- This applies to hand milkers – the same person needs to milk the same cows each time
o Worn inflations
o Dirty or incorrectly set pulsation
o Handling and moving them
o Walking too far to pastures – barn
o Stray voltage
In future posts, I'll cover these conditions in more detail. If your herd is experiencing high SCC, take a look at this list and see what areas you may have forgotten about. If you have questions on what I've posted here, let me know in the comments below! Make sure you subscribe to the blog so you don't miss future posts where I'll go into more detail about SCC causes and treatments!