Skip to main content

Early lactation Sub-Clinical Mastitis

Test for Early Lactation Sub-Clinical Mastitis

Testing for subclinical mastitis should be part of your fresh-cow protocol, says Gary Neubauer, a veterinarian and senior manager of Dairy Technical Services for Zoetis.

“Besides monitoring fresh cows for signs of metritis, ketosis and other disorders, it also is the best time to test for high somatic cell counts (SCC),” he says. “Cows with individual SCC in excess of 200,000 cells/mL may indicate a subclinical mastitis infection.”

Somatic cell counts above 200,000 cells/mL can lead to clinical mastitis, and recent research with thousands of cows shows milk losses from higher cell counts can be substantial.

“Cows with a high SCC at first test (greater than 200,000) can experience an increased loss of 576 pounds of milk, when compared with cows having clinical mastitis in the first 60 days of lactation,” says Mark Kirkpatrick, also a managing veterinarian with Zoetis. Other research also shows cows with mastitis take longer to conceive, have days open, and often face other health issues.

That’s why Neubauer and Kirkpatrick recommend systemically testing every cow for subclinical mastitis shortly after calving. They suggest:

  • Test all fresh cows for SCC on Day 2 or 3 after freshening (or at the earliest opportunity based on management). Options include the California Mastitis Test (CMT) or a digital SCC counter for fast and accurate results.
  • Culture milk samples to identify mastitis-causing pathogens and to develop a herd profile to establish prevention and treatment protocols with your veterinarian.
  • Consider treating cows with SCC greater than 200,000 cells/mL (CMT score of 2 or higher) plus a positive culture. “Ask your veterinarian about mastitis therapies specifically labeled to treat subclinical mastitis infections. Keep in mind that not every cow that tests positive for subclinical mastitis is a candidate for treatment,” says Kirkpatrick.
  • Examine the cow’s health history before treatment and consider:
  • Culture results
  • Parity of the cow
  • Number of previous clinical mastitis cases and what quarter was previously affected
  • Previous SCC test data history, if available
  • Chronicity of mastitis cases
  • Other persistent health issues, such as pneumonia or lameness
  • Production and reproductive records

Read more about Zoetis’ testing protocols, part of Zoetis’ Healthy Start Program,

Delmarva Dairy Day

2017 Delmarva Dairy Day

Thursday Feb 16, 2017

Hartly Fire Hall, Hartly, DE


9:30 to 10:15 AM     Visit with Exhibitors, Coffee and Pastries


10:15 to 11:45 AM   Milk Quality and Udder Health Workshop – Understanding Udder Physiology

Julio Correal, Animal Productivity Specialist, Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition


11:45 to 12:45 PM   Lunch (with UD ice cream) and visit with Exhibitors


12:45 to 1:30 PM      Low Lignin Alfalfa and Alfalfa Management

Ev Thomas, Oak Point Agronomics, Ltd


1:30 to 2:00 PM       Fertility Management for Corn Silage Crops

                               Ev Thomas, Oak Point Agronomics, Ltd


2:00 to 2:30 PM       Transitioning to Organic Dairying

Nicole Lawrence McNeil, Membership and Development Specialist, Pennsylvania Certified Organic



Contact Info: Dan Severson: (302) 831-2506 ( or Limin Kung, Jr. (302 831-2522 (


Cooperative Extension Education in Agriculture and Home Economics, University of Delaware, Delaware State University and the United States Department of Agriculture cooperating. Distributed in furtherance of Acts of congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. It is the policy of the Delaware Cooperative Extension System that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, disability, age, or national origin.

Farm Bureau Working on New Milk Price Insurance

By Jim Dickrell January 31, 2017

A new type of dairy revenue insurance, that would offer regional protection against both milk price and production declines, is being worked on by the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Farm Bureau Insurance Services (AFBIS) and academic collaborators including dairy economist Marin Bozic.

The product, known as Dairy-Revenue Protection (Dairy-RP), protects revenue instead of the milk-feed margin.  It is based on the same concepts as crop insurance, and will be submitted for review to USDA’s Risk Management Agency this spring.

To gauge interest, AFBIS is hosting an on-line survey for dairy farmers.  The survey is just 12 questions in length, and takes less than a minute or two to complete. Farmer input will be used to improve the design of the product and for market research. Go here to take the survey.

“Additionally, Farm Bureau believes livestock insurance funding should be enhanced,” says John Newton, AFBF director of market intelligence. “Livestock insurance funding is currently limited to $20 million per fiscal year despite the $130 billion annual value of the livestock sector.”

As currently designed, Dairy-RP insurance contracts would be quarterly, and could be purchased up to 15 months out. Dairy farmers would have three choices to make:

• A milk price blend between Class III and Class IV

• Number of cows to cover

• Coverage level (up to 90%)

To keep things somewhat simple, production per cow would be based on state-level milk production as reported by USDA. Indemnities would increase if production per cow at the state level decreases during the coverage period, or would decrease if state level production per cow increases during the period. “Indemnities would be paid to the dairy farmer if actual revenue falls below the revenue guarantee,” says Newton.

Dairy-RP premiums would be designed to be actuarially sound pre-subsidy. Based on milk prices from 2008 to 2016 and assuming subsidies similar to those in crop insurance, research by Marin Bozic suggests that the average premiums would be 9¢/cwt three months out, 21¢/cwt six months out, 28¢/cwt nine months out and 36¢/cwt 12 months out.

Bozic’s research shows a variety of hedging strategies with Dairy-RP could provide considerable risk management opportunities. One strategy would have resulted in Dairy-RP indemnities in eight of the 32 three-month quarters since the beginning of 2008, including three quarters in 2009, three quarters in 2015, and twice in 2016. In 2009, those indemnities could have approached $5/cwt; in 2016, about $1/cwt. If a farm had Dairy-RP coverage for the entire eight years, its milk revenue would have averaged $16.67/cwt versus $16.27 without it.

“When the market moves milk prices higher, the availability of a tool like Dairy-RP would provide farmers an opportunity to manage risk and lock-in that higher milk revenue,” says Newton.