Contagious mastitis mainly causes subclinical infection resulting in raised somatic cell counts. Cell counts are measured in hundreds of thousands and a cell count of 200,000/ml is commonly referred to as 200. High cell counts are undesirable as they have significant negative effects on milk quality, shelf life and manufacturing yield. Farmers are penalised for producing high cell count milk and most dairies require milk to have a cell count of under 200 to 250 to avoid any penalty.
Text and Pictures Perter Edmondson
Most countries have legal thresholds over which it is illegal to sell milk. The threshold in the European Union is 400. There are many herds that have cell counts of under 150 all year round indicating very good control of contagious mastitis. The cell count of a cow free from subclinical infection is under 200. Cell counts can vary from one milking to the next due to the shedding pattern of individual bacteria such as Staph. aureus. The udder is a dynamic organ and the cell count will rise any time that
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