News & Advice

Milk volumes dropping?

Feb 9, 2021 | Dairy, Milk Quality

Emma Bullock, Veterinarian, Anexa Vets Morrinsville

We are past peak now, and summer is well underway. With this, we are seeing milk volumes dropping off and BMSCC’s starting to climb. Some farms are at a high risk of grading with OAD milking whilst others may have a higher than expected BMSCC or a fluctuating BMSCC.

So, what can we do to manage BMSCC through late lactation into dry off?

  1. Milk sample high SCC and mastitis cows.
    Milk sampling your mastitis cows, as well as high SCC cows identified from RMT or herd testing, can be very valuable and useful in managing SCC. Different bacteria found can identify what risk factors for infection may be involved, and therefore what area to hone in on to manage it. For example, a high level of CNS bacteria may be seen with suboptimal teat spraying practices.
  2. Watch low milk volumes.
    Monitor milk volumes at both a herd level and an individual level. Putting cows on once-a-day (OAD) can initially double BMSCC but it will drop back to a lower level over the following week. This may increase grading risk though, e.g. if a herd is already over 200,000cells/ml then OAD could lead to grading. This also applies to drying off – It is preferable to OAD the herd for a week prior to drying off rather than two days prior. At two days prior to drying off this is the point where the SCC has doubled and is still high however a week into OAD the SCC’s settle down to a more acceptable level.
  3. Consider culling cows with chronically high SCCs and or repeat mastitis.
    Cows that have had high SCC’s over more than one lactation which have not dropped down after the previous dry cow, will unlikely cure with any further dry cow. If you are keeping cows like this its worth milk sampling them to see if they have contagious bacteria present and are a risk to other cows. The same applies to repeat mastitis cows. Cows having had three cases or more a season are unlikely to cure.
  4. Continue to practice vigilant teat spraying.
    Make sure you are using an appropriate mix for your level of mastitis risk, that you are mixing it up fresh (every 2-3 days – not once a week), that all parts of the teats are covered (the fronts of the fronts are very often missed) and that you apply enough of it. To reduce new infections the recommendation is 20ml a cow per milking for handheld. For automatic teat sprayers, the level is higher. Make sure your automatic sprayer is actually spraying each cow, covering the teats and is serviced regularly as – it can be surprising how many cows are inadequately sprayed sometimes.
  5. Avoid using lots of water on udders during milking
    While this may be a tempting method to cool cows during this hot period, it can result in bacteria from the skin running down the udder to the teat tip. Vacuum applied at cups on then can carry bacteria into the teat and udder. Hosing may also splash fecal contaminated water up onto teats and udders so try to hose between rows rather than when cows are rowed up or as they walk in or out.
  6. Check the machine and plant are performing well
    Teat health and therefore mastitis risk can be influenced by many factors including liner type, system vacuum and pulsation. Anexa can perform a milking visit to assess these things to clarify the level of teat damage and whether these factors may be contributing to new infections in the herd. Often the liners are due for a change now (2500 milkings) so check your numbers!
  7. If you have concerns about your BMSCC or high SCC cows don’t hesitate to contact your vet
    Anexa has vets trained in milk quality and grade busting that are here to help. Your vet can help you make a plan with these high SCC cows during your milk quality consult.


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