How to Manage Somatic Cell Count

This article was originally printed in the April issue of the Plain Dirt Newsletter. To learn more about the DHIA Somatic Cell Count, visit their website. If you need guidance when making informed decisions we would be happy to assist you, please call 888.339.3334.

Using DHIA Reports to Manage Somatic Cell Count

By Jay Mylin, Lancaster DHIA

For many dairymen, the Dairy Herd Information Association (DHIA) lab report is the first data you look at when you receive the results of your last test. This report gives you fat and protein composition, but more importantly, is the Somatic Cell Count (SCC) for each cow. Some recent changes to the report gives even more information so that dairymen can make decisions about problem cows. One of the hardest decisions is deciding whether to maintain and treat, or cull a cow. The lab results are useful in determining these tough choices.

The first place to look on the report is the average characteristics for the herd. Secondly, who are your high cows and what percent are they contributing to your tank SCC? Many small herds can have one or two cows that are causing lost bonus money for the month. Before sending that cow out the door, let’s do more checking to see if she is a problem cow. What was her SCC last month and what is her current lactation average? One high SCC does not mean she is a problem cow. If she is high this month, last month, and during the current lactation, you probably do have a problem cow. Then you need to make a decision to cull or treat the cow considering other factors like production, age and type.

The report also gives you the SCC for the last lactation as well as the last test before dry off. Last test before dry off and first test in the current lactation helps you see how well your dry cow program is working.

Other new features on this report are the terms “Cured”, “Chronic” and “New”. Any SCC over 200,000 is considered an infected cow. At the bottom of the report you have the percent of the cows Cured, Chronic, and New.

NEW is a cow that is over 200,000 for the first time in the current lactation.

CHRONIC is a cow that is over 200,000 this test and last test.

CURED is a cow over 200,000 last test and under 200,000 this test.

These new features, as well as the production and breeding information on this report, give you a wealth of information to help you make informed decisions that will give you more profit from your dairy herd.