Researchers in North Carolina have found that fresh cow mastitis status on day three after calving can have an impact on milk production later in lactation.

During a recent study, they examined somatic cell concentrations and cell types in milk samples for each quarter of 130 cows. Production was quantified using a measure that standardizes milk production per cow per day to that at 150 days in milk. 

 Milk culture results comparing cows with no growth to those with any growth (major or minor pathogens) were not statistically significant differences in milk production. Meanwhile, milk culture results that compared cows with major pathogens to those with no growth and minor pathogens combined were associated with statistically significant differences in 150 days in milk.

 Plus, milk production differences were noted for cows experiencing any health event (usually clinical mastitis in this study) versus those with no health event.

No association with milk production was found for results based on the California Mastitis Test or somatic cell concentrations at three cut-off points.

However, the percentage and number of neutrophils in milk was associated with 150-day milk production. These results suggest that these milk cell differentials may be useful in mastitis monitoring in fresh cows.

 The research was published in the December Journal of Dairy Science.