Heifers with an elevated somatic cell count in early lactation produce less milk during their first lactation, according to research in the March Journal of Dairy Science.

Belgian and Canadian researchers used the test-day milk-yield records of more than 14,000 first-lactation heifers to estimate the impact of SCC between five and 14 days in milk on first-lactation milk yield.

Their analysis shows that a heifer with an SCC of 500,000 cells per milliliter at 10 days in milk is estimated to produce 262 pounds less milk during her first lactation than a heifer with an SCC of 50,000 at 10 days in milk.