Somatic cell counts in the Upper Midwest now average 220,000 cells/ml, down from 332,000 cells/ml in 2000.
Data from the Upper Midwest Federal Milk Marketing Order shows that milk quality has improved over the past dozen years. In fact, the somatic cell count summer time peaks of 250,000 cells/ml are now 50,000 cells less than seasonal lows in 2000 and 150,000 cells less than the highs.
Somatic cell counts in the Upper Midwest now average 220,000 cells/ml, down from 332,000 cells/ml in 2000, according to an analysis conducted by Corey Freije, an analyst with the Federal Market administrator’s office in Minneapolis.
"The weighted standard deviation of somatic cell counts in herd data has also fallen over time," he says. "This means the average has fallen and the distribution has tightened up around than average in the period from 2000 to 2012."
Large herds also tend to have lower cell counts. Herds with 200 or more cows tend to have an average cell count of 215,000 cells/ml or less. Smaller herds average about 240,000 cells/ml or more. Herds with less than 25 cows tend to have the higher cell counts, likely due to the fact that one high count cow can skew the herd average significantly.