Differential somatic cell count as an additional indicator for intramammary infections in dairy cows

Carsten Thure Kirkeby*, Nils Toft, D. Schwarz, M. Farre, S S Nielsen, Lisa Marie-Louise Zervens, S. Hechinger, Tariq Hisham Beshara Halasa

*Corresponding author for this work

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Mastitis, often caused by intramammary infection (IMI), is a significant problem in dairy farming globally. Somatic cell count (SCC) is widely used as a parameter for screening IMI in cows that are then treated or culled. We investigated the potential of a new parameter, differential SCC (DSCC), to detect IMI at cow level when SCC is already known. We achieved this using bacterial culture (BC) and PCR to detect 4 categories of pathogens (major, minor, other, and any) in 2 Danish dairy herds. Quarter milk samples were collected from monthly dairy herd improvement samplings over 1 yr and analyzed with BC, whereas cow-level dairy herd improvement samples were analyzed using PCR. Days in milk, parity, and IMI status had a significant effect on DSCC. Using DSCC in addition to SCC significantly improved the indication of IMI compared with using only SCC in the any pathogen category in both herds as well as the minor pathogens category in herd 2 when BC was used for detection. When PCR was used to detect IMI, the use of DSCC in addition to SCC was significant for the other pathogens category in herd 1 and the minor pathogens category in herd 2. Thus, our data revealed that DSCC can add significant information describing IMI status even when SCC is already known; however, this depends on the causative pathogen. Future studies may address how to use DSCC in practice as well as consider the availability of temporal data to potentially gain insight into the course of infection.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal Of Dairy Science
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)1759-1775
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Dairy cowd
  • Differential somatic cell count
  • Mastitis


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