Estimating milk yield and value losses from increased somatic cell count on US dairy farms

J. C. Hadrich, C. A. Wolf, J. Lombard, T. M. Dolak

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39 Scopus citations


Milk loss due to increased somatic cell counts (SCC) results in economic losses for dairy producers. This research uses 10 mo of consecutive dairy herd improvement data from 2013 and 2014 to estimate milk yield loss using SCC as a proxy for clinical and subclinical mastitis. A fixed effects regression was used to examine factors that affected milk yield while controlling for herd-level management. Breed, milking frequency, days in milk, seasonality, SCC, cumulative months with SCC greater than 100,000 cells/mL, lactation, and herd size were variables included in the regression analysis. The cumulative months with SCC above a threshold was included as a proxy for chronic mastitis. Milk yield loss increased as the number of test days with SCC ≥100,000 cells/mL increased. Results from the regression were used to estimate a monetary value of milk loss related to SCC as a function of cow and operation related explanatory variables for a representative dairy cow. The largest losses occurred from increased cumulative test days with a SCC ≥100,000 cells/mL, with daily losses of $1.20/cow per day in the first month to $2.06/cow per day in mo 10. Results demonstrate the importance of including the duration of months above a threshold SCC when estimating milk yield losses. Cows with chronic mastitis, measured by increased consecutive test days with SCC ≥100,000 cells/mL, resulted in higher milk losses than cows with a new infection. This provides farm managers with a method to evaluate the trade-off between treatment and culling decisions as it relates to mastitis control and early detection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3588-3596
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Dairy Science Association


  • SCC
  • economics
  • mastitis
  • milk yield


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