Article| Volume 80, ISSUE 8, P1833-1840, August 1997

Estimation of Variance Components for Somatic Cell Counts to Determine Thresholds for Uninfected Quarters

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      The objective of this study was to determine the factors affecting somatic cell count (SCC), to estimate variance components of these factors, and to calculate and evaluate the thresholds for intramammary infection based on SCC. The infection status from 22,467 quarter milk samples from 544 cows in seven herds was determined. Infection status was the most important factor affecting SCC. The increase in SCC was more pronounced for major pathogens than for minor pathogens. Even after adjustment for infection status, the interaction between stage of lactation and parity was significant. For culture-negative samples within a lactation, the shape of the SCC curve was inversely related to the shape of the milk production curve. The shape of the SCC curve was flat for first lactation cows compared with the shape of the SCC curve for cows in subsequent lactations. The effect of clinical mastitis on SCC was significant. The use of SCC thresholds for specific parities and stages of lactation to detect intramammary infection improved quality parameters only slightly over a fixed threshold of 200,000 cells/ml.


      Abbreviation Key:

      BMSCC (bulk milk SCC), CNS (coagulase-negative staphylococci), RMSE (root mean squares error)


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