Somatic cell counts continue to decline in Upper Midwest

Somatic cell counts (SCCs), a measure of milk quality and an indication of subclinical mastitis, continued to decline in the Midwest, according to a report issued this month by the Upper Midwest Federal Milk Marketing Order.

"Somatic cell counts under the Midwest Order have shown a sustained and substantial downward trend over the period from 2003 to 2015," says Corey Freije, an economist and analyst with the Upper Midwest Order. SCCs averaged 208,000 cells/mL in 2015, down from 222,000 in 2014, and down by more than 100,000 cells/mL since 2003.

North Dakota again leads the way in average SCC, with the state averaging 190,000 last year. Wisconsin, despite having the most cows and herds in the Upper Midwest Order, had the second lowest average SCC at 203,000. Illinois, Minnesota and South Dakota had the highest average, at 216,000.

Large herds also again showed the highest level of milk quality. Herds shipping more than 50 million lb. of milk per month averaged 190,000 SCC. Herds that shipped less than 50,000 lb. per month are still averaging 304,000 cells/mL.

Read the full report here.