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Give fresh cows a fresh start

September 22, 2020
POSTED BY: Juan Rodrigo Pedraza | DVM | Managing Veterinarian | Zoetis

Starting the fresh period off on a healthy note can be the difference between a successful productive lactation and a subpar one. One study found that cows with a high somatic cell count (SCC) greater than 200,000 cells/mL experienced an average of 1,583 pounds in lost milk production, amounting to $285 (based on $18/cwt) in profit loss.1


These numbers underscore why a comprehensive dry off program is the first step in helping you protect your cows’ potential. But that’s only one part of the dairy wellness equation. Consider implementing these monitoring steps into your fresh cow program to help work toward a mastitis-free lactation:

  1. Test SCC for all heifers and cows after freshening. Try to test within two to three days after freshening or at the earliest opportunity. The California Mastitis Test (CMT) and Digital SCC Counter are two common screening methods, but you also can opt to use another proven diagnostic test depending on your dairy’s management situation.
  2. Culture fresh heifers and cows. Culture results can help you develop a herd pathogen profile, establish treatment protocols and inform management strategies aimed at minimizing your herd’s exposure to its most common mastitis pathogens.
  3. Treat animals as needed. An SCC greater than 200,000 or a CMT score of 3 warrants medical intervention.1 Once you’ve identified which cows need to be treated, use their culture results to determine which treatments will be most effective for each cow’s pathogen.


Are you ready to give your cows a fresh start on their next lactation? Talk with your veterinarian or Zoetis representative to learn more about how you can help  prevent mastitis during dry off.

Consider brushing up on your comprehensive dry off program by taking the Steps to Complete Dry Off course.


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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