Free Access
Vet. Res.
Volume 34, Number 5, September-October 2003
Mastitis of dairy ruminants
Page(s) 579 - 596
How to cite this article Vet. Res. (2003) 579-596
Vet. Res. 34 (2003) 579-596
DOI: 10.1051/vetres:2003028

Monitoring udder health and milk quality using somatic cell counts

Ynte H. Schukken, David J. Wilson, Francis Welcome, Linda Garrison-Tikofsky and Ruben N. Gonzalez

Quality Milk Production Services, Cornell Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, 22 Thornwood Drive, Ithaca, NY, 14850, USA
(Received 7 January 2003, accepted 12 June 2003)

In this article the use of somatic cell counts for monitoring udder health and milk quality is discussed. Somatic cell count dynamics at quarter, cow, herd and population level are discussed and illustrated with examples. Quarter and cow somatic cell counts directly represent the inflammatory status of the mammary gland. Herd and population somatic cell count are related to the inflammatory process in individual cows but much more reflect the udder health status of the herd and the quality of the raw milk in the herd and the population. Application of monitoring tools in herd health management are illustrated using a case study. Understanding infection dynamics requires precise longitudinal data. Monitoring tools are required to find the areas of risk in the herd. It is inevitable that more complete udder health programs and monitoring systems are to be developed and implemented. These programs are necessarily dynamic and complex. Implementation of complete udder health programs should be accompanied by research efforts to further fine-tune these complete udder health control and monitoring programs.

Key words: somatic cell count / mastitis / milk quality / monitoring / epidemiology

Correspondence and reprints: Ynte H. Schukken

© INRA, EDP Sciences 2003