Researchers in Japan may have found a way to improve your herd’s milk quality even more through genetic selection.

According to a study published in the April Journal of Dairy Science, the scientists located a specific allele (one of two or more forms of a gene) in Holstein sires that is tied to somatic cell score and the incidence of mastitis. They genotyped the allele in 918 random Holstein sires and found that those carrying version p.Gly105[12] had daughters with significantly lower incidence of clinical mastitis. They also found the allele is neutral in terms of milk production, fat, solids non-fat, and protein yields, meaning you would not have to sacrifice any key production traits if you choose sires with this characteristic.

The scientists theorize that the allele enhances immune responses, making the cows more resistant to mastitis. Therefore, they suggest that this could be a beneficial selection tool for improved milk quality going forward.