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Associations between first- and second-lactation somatic cell counts in cattle

H. J. Williams, P. J. Cripps, D. H. Grove-White

MASTITIS is a major economic and welfare problem for the dairy industry worldwide. The somatic cell count (SCC) in milk is widely monitored as an indicator of intramammary infection (IMI), and a SCC of 200,000 cells/ml or higher is commonly taken as a sign of a cow having an IMI in at least one quarter. Prolonged elevation of the SCC, which may be identified by several consecutive high counts, can be a sign of a chronic IMI or repeated infections. This study investigated associations between the pattern of SCCs of dairy cows in their first and second lactations.

Data including milk yield, composition, SCC, date of calving, dates of service and parity were collected for 1912 cows in 12 herds. SCCs higher than 200,000 cells/ml were classified as ‘high’, and cows with three consecutive or three non-consecutive high SCCs per lactation were identified. Logistic regression was used to investigate associations between SCC patterns in the first lactation and the likelihood of being culled before the second lactation, and between SCC patterns in the first and second lactations.

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