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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

The Importance of Milk Culturing

Dairy Pipeline: October 2007

Christina Petersson-Wolfe
Extension Dairy Scientist, Milk Quality & Milking Management
(540) 231-4767;

A great deal of information can be gained from a milk culturing program. Standard milk bacteriology can be run on aseptically collected quarter milk samples and in turn can reveal causes of both subclinical and clinical mastitis, as well as the reason for a high somatic cell count. Additionally, we can use this knowledge to assess dry cow management programs and determine whether a case of mastitis has cured. Each individual herd has its own bacterial profile which will be dependent on specific management practices on that herd, including milking procedures, bedding type, and the use of various products including bedding additives. By understanding the bacterial profile, we can construct and evaluate control programs with regards to milking procedures, as well as programs related to dry cows, lactating cows and also calf management. The Virginia Tech Mastitis & Immunology Laboratory is currently accepting milk samples for culture. If you would like more information with regards to sample collection and submission, please contact me at or 540-231-4767. I would be happy to discuss how to get started and what to do with the information once you have received your results.


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