Larger Herds, Lower Cell Counts
Data from the Upper Midwest Federal Milk Marketing Order from 2011 again confirms that large farms produce milk of considerably higher quality based on somatic cell counts.
The very smallest farms had an average SCC of 362,000 cells/ml; the very largest, 219,000 cell/ml.
The very smallest farms produced only 22,000 lb. of milk per month; the very largest, 1.22 million lb. Average Midwest herds, those producing 128,000 lb. of milk per month (from about 75 cows), had SCCs of 280,000 cells/ml.
In the study, Wisconsin had the lowest state SCC average, at 241,000 cells/ml. North Dakota had the highest state average, at 296,000. But some of that could be skewed by the fact that Wisconsin likely has the highest number of large farms in the Upper Midwest as well.
The smallest farms, however, had the highest level of butterfat content, averaging 2.91%. “Under multiple component pricing, the annual weighted average of butterfat, protein and other solids, adjusted for SCC, was $19.15 the Upper Midwest market in 2011,” reports Corey Freije, an economist with the Upper Midwest Order. Small farms, with the highest butter fat content, also had the highest component value for their milk, $19.47/cwt.