A Low SCC Takes Work

April 3, 2013 09:57 AM

**Extended columns highlighted in blue.

Jon Patterson

Jon Patterson
Auburn, N.Y.

Jon Patterson’s dairy milks 1,100 cows on a farm that’s been in the family since 1832.


Udder health has been an issue for our farm for the last 10 years. We bed all cows with deep-bed manure solids. We started using manure solids in the fall of 1999 and have never stopped, except for a few months when we were between separators.

We had good luck at first composting the solids with a forced air static pile method of composting and using them on mattresses. But we were unhappy with the hock issues that came with our mattresses.

We built a barn with deep beds in 2001 and converted the old mattresses in the barn to deep beds in 2005. Over the years, our SCC climbed, and we have tried many different things to get it under control.

We are currently shipping milk at 180,000 SCC and bedding with green (non- digested) manure. We bed six days a week with solids that are less than 1 hour old and are 34-38% dry matter. Milkers clean the backs of the stalls and cross-overs when they pull cows.

Maintaining and keeping the parlor operating properly is critical to ensure all cows are milked the same every time. Using good pre- and post-dip products and a good udder prep routine have also helped.

We began sharing our milk quality bonus with the milkers. Their consistent effort is primary. We have under-crowded cows, maintain good vaccination protocols, and have dry-cow therapy and many other things to minimize stress on the cows to help improve milk quality.

All treated cow milk and milk from high SCC quarters is pasteurized and fed to calves, so we are aggressive at treating cows because we use the milk for the calves.

We do quarter bulk tank samples looking for Mycoplasma and Staph. cows that we want to cull from the herd. We have done a lot of testing to determine what kind of bugs we are fighting and what drugs work the best on these bugs.

Every month after our DHIA test, we look to see if there are high SCC cows that have not been treated. The milkers put different colored leg bands on to indicate the quarter that is bad, and that is the one that is quarter milked or treated. We use a CMT test on any cows that show no visibly bad milk but still have a high count.

Patterson’s recent prices

$21.66 (3.81 bf, 3.2 prt)

Cull cows

Springing heifers

Alfalfa hay (milk cow)


Corn meal


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