Relationship of daily total somatic cell output with somatic cell concentration and clinical mastitis

H. P. Lehew, C. D. Dechow

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Somatic cell count (SCC) measures the concentration of somatic cells in milk and is used as a mastitis diagnostic tool. It is plausible that variation in milk yield could alter the relationship between SCC and mastitis status. Our objective was to evaluate total daily SCC output as a predictor of clinical mastitis. Data included 37,035 test-day records from 4,179 lactations of 1,679 cows and 1,286 mastitis events from an experimental herd. Daily total SCC was derived by multiplying SCC by daily milk yield in milliliters and transformed to daily total somatic cell score (DTSCS) via a log2 transformation. Milk yield, SCS, and DTSCS were evaluated with mixed models that included the proximity of a mastitis event to the test date and days in milk as the main fixed effects. A second series of logistic regression was conducted that considered mastitis (1 = mastitis occurred during a test interval; 0 = no mastitis) as the dependent variable with milk yield, SCS, and DTSCS the main independent effects. Least squares means for test dates associated with mastitis-free lactations were 2.43 and 2.25 for SCS and DTSCS, respectively. The corresponding values were 5.96 for SCS and 5.66 for DTSCS for the week of a mastitis event. Whereas SCS declined rapidly in early lactation and then increased steadily thereafter, DTSCS was lowest in early lactation and increased by a proportionally smaller amount throughout lactation. Including both SCS and DTSCS in the same model improved the logistic regression model fit over a model with SCS only. Dilution effects from milk yield influence SCS, and consideration of DTSCS in management and genetic selection schemes could improve mastitis detection and resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-199
Number of pages4
JournalJDS Communications
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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