Monitoring nonlactating cow intramammary infection dynamics using DHI somatic cell count data

J Dairy Sci. 2002 May;85(5):1119-26. doi: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(02)74173-8.


Although the nonlactating period presents a risk for intramammary infection, efficient systems to monitor infection status of recently calved cows have not been developed, and benchmarks for interpretation have not been established. Individual cow somatic cell count (SCC) data for the current and previous six monthly Dairy Herd Improvement milk tests and the last SCC of the previous lactation and first SCC of the current lactation were summarized for all milking cows in a selection of Wisconsin dairy herds. Prevalence of infection, herd new infection rate, fresh cow contribution to herd new infection rate, dry cow new infection rate, heifer new infection rate, and dry cow cure rate were estimated using a threshold of 200,000/ml. In 145 herds, mean (range) heifer new infection rate was 21.3% (0 to 58%). The cut-point for the 10th percentile of herds was 8%. Mean (range) dry cow new infection rate in cows that were uninfected at the last test before dry off was 22.4% (0 to 71%), and the cut-point for the 10th percentile of herds was 9%. Although nonlactating cow and heifer new infection rates increased with weighted 6-mo mean herd SCC, the between-herd variation was large, suggesting that on-farm factors are important in determining the rates of infection. In a subset of 51 Wisconsin dairy herds, significant monthly variation in weighted SCC, prevalence, herd new infection rate, and fresh cow contribution to herd new infection rate were detected. Elevations in SCC and prevalence of infection during the summer (July through September) were associated with significant increases in fresh cow and herd new infection rates.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cattle Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cattle Diseases / therapy
  • Cell Count*
  • Female
  • Infections / diagnosis
  • Infections / epidemiology
  • Infections / veterinary*
  • Mammary Glands, Animal*
  • Milk / cytology*