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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

"High somatic cell count is a generic predictor of poor quality milk".

Dairy Pipeline: May 2002

Gerald M. (Jerry) Jones
Professor & Extension Dairy Scientist,
Milk Quality & Milking Management
(540) 231-4764

Milk quality tests from the five largest milk plants in New York were analyzed by Cornell researchers from March 1999 through December 2000. Only 3.5% had somatic cell counts above 750,000, and 72-88% of the milk supply would have been in compliance with the European Union's requirements of 400,000 SCC. A greater percent exceeded 400,000 during the summer. Farms with higher SCC had higher bacteria counts. Antibiotic residue violations were higher in larger size farms, although the large herds had lower SCC and bacteria counts. The authors of this study, published in the Journal of Dairy Science, concluded that, if the regulatory SCC were reduced, attention would need to be focused on farms with SCC between 200 and 500,000 as well as larger farms. One of the big concerns expressed by parts of the American dairy industry has been the potential for increased antibiotic residue violations if the SCC were reduced below its current requirement of 750,000.

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