Michigan State University research reveals two practices that consistently help achieve somatic cell counts (SCC) of 110,000 or less, says Larry Collar, producer quality assurance manager for California Dairies, Inc.:
the milking machine after cow teats are clean and dry. To clean and dry teats, milkers removed manure, urine and dirt from the sides and ends before attaching the milking unit. Researchers noted that milkers at low-SCC dairies generally spend more than 10 seconds per cow to get teats completely clean and dry.
"Most milkers do a pretty good job cleaning the sides of teats, but unless they're properly trained, they'll do a fairly poor job of cleaning the end of the teats,” Collar says. "Scrubbing the ends of the teats while grasping the sides with the other hand is the only way to get gunk off the bottom of the teats.”
Do you see your milkers scrubbing teat ends using both hands, or are they pulling downward on the teats with one hand and holding onto the stall with the other? Collar advises producers to randomly check some teat ends after the milkers have prepared them for machine attachment. "Are they clean, or is there some gunk stuck to the skin around the teat opening?” he asks.
Closely monitor SCCs
for individual cows to identify new infections as early as possible. "To accomplish this, someone on the dairy must have the responsibility of monitoring individual cows for increases in SCC,” Collar says. "This monitoring can be achieved using one or more available methods, including monthly DHIA testing, the California Mastitis Test, sending cow samples to a lab for culturing and on-farm SCC testing.”