New research published in the September Journal of Dairy Science reinforces the need to manage cows carefully after calving. Israeli researchers evaluated the lactations of more than 1,700 cows. They found that high-producing cows with extreme body weight loss in early lactation or ketosis had a greater risk of elevated somatic cell counts.

For example, the odds of an event of SCC greater than 400,000 cells per milliliter were 33 percent higher for a cow with ketosis than a cow without ketosis. Meanwhile, for cows that lost more bodyweight versus those that lost less, the odds of an elevated somatic cell count were 43 percent higher. The researchers noted that their results show that many of the elevated SCC events recurred, indicating that a more severe state of negative energy balance in early lactation has long-term detrimental effects on udder health.