1. Do you believe the U.S. should adopt a 400,000 somatic cell count standard to replace the 750,000 standard currently in place?

Yes: 76.3%
No: 23.7%

2. Do you track your herd's somatic cell count?
Yes: 98%.
No: 2%.

If so, how often do you track it?
Weekly: 40.8%.
Daily: 38.8%.
Monthly: 18.4%.
Every other week: 4.1%.

3. When you find a substantial rise in somatic cell count, which do you do?

discuss with milkers to help identify the problem – 77.2%
check more thoroughly for mastitis – 75.4%
check milking equipment – 75.4%
check pre- and/or post-milking teat dipping and effectiveness – 68.4%
call your veterinarian to investigate the problem – 40.4%
ignore it and hope it goes away – 8.8%

4. Does your processor or cooperative offer producers milk-quality premiums?

Yes: 94.7%
No: 5.3%

5. What actions have you taken to improve milk quality?

Established new cow prep and hygiene protocols 79.2%
Lowered our somatic cell count 66.7%
We regularly track somatic cell count levels 66.7%
Upgraded facilities and procedures 50%
We've involved outside consultants 45.8%
We meet regularly to review, discuss and address milk quality challenges 37.5%
Regularly evaluate milker compliance to protocols 33.3%
We have initiated milk quality discussion with processors/cooperatives 29.2%
We now culture all mastitis cases 20.8%
We've established a milk-quality team 12.5%
Milk fresh cows first, milk chronic cows last 4.2%

6. Who have you involved in identifying or taking action on your milk quality challenges and opportunities?

Veterinarian 68.4%
Dairy equipment dealer 47.4%
Nutritionist 42.1%
Company technical services representative 31.6%
Processor 15.8%
Cooperative 15.8%

7. What information do you need to help improve Milk Quality?


  • Milking-routine BTM 
  • A complete check list of actions that will lower somatic-cell count. I don't believe mastitis is the only cause. 
  • Seasonal somatic-cell counts for west-coast dairies 
  • The CWT initiative is a noble effort and deserves support. I would like to know from the 30-something member cooperatives, why they don't agree as a group to raise the somatic-cell-count bar. If they truely control 70 percent of the milk marketed, we do not need government agencies to do this job. We only need the purchasers of raw milk to set the standard. This group could raise the bar on quality in the U.S almost instantly. It would reduce the herd size and put more money in our (producers) pockets without much overhead. 
  • What are the factors that most influence milk quality. Equipment, bedding, weather, procedures?
  • What are the factors that most influence milk composition?
  • Does water quality affect somatic cell count or contribute to mastitis? (Example: high levels of E. coli, nitrates...)

Do you have a need that isn't mentioned here? E-mail it to us and we will post it (anonymously) on this page. This will give Dairy Herd Management staff an idea of what you need to know about this topic. As always, your name and e-mail address remain confidential.

8. If you employ Hispanic workers to milk your cows, what steps have you taken with them to improve milk quality?

  • Learned to speak Spanish: 53.3%
  • Provided the workers with Spanish-language instructional materials: 46.7%
  • Designated one of my managers to be the go-between me and my Hispanic milkers: 40%
  • Hired a consultant who is fluent in Spanish: 40%
  • Designated a milker who is proficient in both Spanish and English to be the go-between: 33.3%
  • Provided a monthly meeting with an interpretor: 6.7%

9. What time of year is the most pivotal for attaining quality milk?
Summer 56.8%, Spring 25%, Winter 13.6%, Fall 11.4%

How important is seasonality (time of year) in milk quality?
1 - very important: 68.2%
2 - 18.2%
3 - 11.4%
4 - 2.3%