News & Advice

Struggling with High Bulk Tank Somatic Cell Counts?

Oct 3, 2016 | Dairy, Dairy Animal Health & Welfare, Milk Quality

Every season is different and we have seen some farms with BTSCCs sitting higher than usual this season. Taking steps to remedy this is especially important for those herds planning to go onto once a day milking later in the season or those herds chasing incentives from dairy companies. 
Machine and rubberware related performance are very important as they have a huge influence not only on milking speed but teat condition and mastitis risk. If there are issues these will become more apparent now and over the next couple of months with cows being exposed to the machine for more milkings and cups being on for longer over peak production. 
Some simple checks of milking machine function that can be performed daily are: 

  • Read the vacuum gauge – do you have a record of what it should be? 
  • Listen to pulsators – they should all sound the same. 
  • Observe cows during milking – unsettled cows may indicate a problem with the environment, or milking machine. 
  • Check air admission holes (vents) – the claw bowl may flood during milk flow. This can lead to more cup slip, slow or incomplete milking, and difficulty removing clusters even after the vacuum is cut off. 
  • Check milk is entering the receiver can and flowing in smoothly. 
  • Check teats as the cups come off – look for teat end damage, any colour changes (reddish, bluish or purplish skin colour) or swelling, hardness at the top, middle or tip of the teats. 
  • Check that cows are milking out properly – split liners, holes in the pulse tubes or short milk tubes, or faulty pulsators can be causes.  

The 350 cow herd below had a BTSCC around 100,000 this time last year and after investigating we found issues with the vacuum pressure and automatic cup removers. We were able to make effective changes which immediately dropped the SCC and improved cow comfort at milking. 

If you are concerned with your bulk tank somatic cell count or are keen to lower it then contact your local vet. We also have a number of vets with further training in mastitis management and milk quality control that can assist you. 

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