Screen SCC in fresh cows for better milk quality
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Manage milk quality for better repro, more milk

January 25, 2016
POSTED BY: Gary Neubauer | DVM | Senior Manager | Dairy Technical Services | Zoetis

The first days after freshening are among the most critical of a cow’s life. Besides monitoring fresh cows for signs of metritis, ketosis and other disorders, it also is the best time to test for high somatic cell counts (SCC). Cows with individual SCC in excess of 200,000 cells/mL may indicate a subclinical mastitis infection.

That’s why Zoetis developed the Healthy Start Program — an easy-to-follow, fresh cow protocol to help dairy producers effectively identify cows with high SCC. It’s a great fit with most dairies’ fresh-pen management protocols and allows producers to reduce mastitis losses by addressing cases early in lactation.

The Healthy Start Program involves: 

  • Test SCC for all fresh cows on Day 2 or 3 after freshening (or at the earliest opportunity based on management). Dairies can select the SCC test method that best suits their management. Options include the easy and affordable California Mastitis Test (CMT) or a digital SCC counter for fast and accurate results. Producers can consult their veterinarian for other options as well.
  • Culture milk samples to identify mastitis-causing pathogens and to develop a herd profile and establish prevention and treatment protocols.
  • Treat cows with SCC greater than 200,000 cells/mL (CMT score of 2 or higher) plus a positive culture.

Research shows it pays to control subclinical mastitis early in lactation. Data from 164,000 cow records show that cows with high SCC at first test after freshening produced less milk, were more likely to develop clinical mastitis and had more days open than their herdmates with lower SCC.1  We normally see cows with two or more lactations have higher proportions of high first-test SCC scores of 200,000 or greater.

When choosing a treatment for subclinical mastitis, remember that SPECTRAMAST® LC (ceftiofur hydrochloride) Sterile Suspension is labeled for both clinical mastitis and diagnosed subclinical mastitis. SPECTRAMAST LC treats Escherichia coli (E. coli) and other major mastitis pathogens, and its once-a-day dosing is convenient for the treatment or hospital crew. With the flexible label, 72-hour milk discard and two-day pre-slaughter meat withdrawal, you gain income and management flexibility by treating subclinical mastitis with SPECTRAMAST LC.

Control mastitis prior to breeding to help set cows up for better reproductive results and higher milk production throughout lactation. Work with your veterinarian to use the Healthy Start Program along with SPECTRAMAST LC to address subclinical mastitis and improve milk quality outcomes on the dairy.


IMPORTANT DIAGNOSTIC INFORMATION: SPECTRAMAST LC is intended for use in lactating dairy cattle only with the specified, labeled pathogens. To assure responsible antimicrobial drug use, it is expected that subclinical mastitis will be diagnosed using a positive culture, or other pathogen-specific test, in addition to any other, appropriate veterinary medical evaluation prior to treatment.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: People with known hypersensitivity to penicillins or cephalosporins should avoid exposure to SPECTRAMAST LC. Product requires a 72-hour milk discard period and a 2-day pre-slaughter withdrawal period following the last treatment. Use of this product in a manner other than indicated on the label, or failure to adhere to proper milk discard period, will result in violative residues. See full Prescribing Information.

1 Kirkpatrick MA, Olson JD. Somatic Cell Counts at First Test: More than a Number, in Proceedings. NMC Annu Meet 2015;53-56.



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