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Doctoral thesis1998Open access

A study of dairy herds with constantly low or constantly high bulk milk somatic cell count, with special emphasis on management

Ekman, Torkel


Swedish dairy fanns with low bulk milk somatic cell counts (LC) for at least seven years and farms with high cell counts (HC) for the same period were studied. Herds had to produce >100 tons ofmilk and be enrolled in the official milk recording scheme to be eligible for inclusion. LC herds had to have an average arithmetic cell count over the observation period of less than 137,000 cells/ml and HC herds had to have an average arithmetic cell count of 325,000-525,000 cells/ml. There was complete separation, as regards BMSCC, between the two types offarms. The sampled farms were studied via 1) data available in Swedish databases on dairy farms (250 LC and 202 HC), and 2) through an in-depth field study (52 LC and 30 HC). Hie farms were located in seven different regions in the southern half ofthe country, Skåne and Halland excluded. Multivariable statistical methods, logistic and linear regression, were used to elucidate differences between farm types.

The LC farms were smaller, 29 vs. 37 cows, and generally had higher incidences cf treatments of cattle diseases than the HC farms. The LC farms produced more milk/cow and had better fertility than the HC farms. This indicates better management on the LC farms. The results ofthe m-depth field study point in the same direction. Thus, the cows on LC farms were cleaner, bettersheared, had better trimmed claws and were ofthe SRBbreed. The LC farmers used rubbermats and straw more often. The milklines had greater diameters, the milking technique was much better, and teat dipping was practiced more frequently. The calves on LC farms were more often tended by a female, they were cleaner, received whole-milk for a longer period oftime and were dewormed more often than calves on HC farms. The spouses worked together more often, there were more children in the households and the owners were more patient than the owners on HC farms, where there were more employed personnel and cows of the SLB-breed. The study indicates the need for a new holistic approach for control ofudder health.


bulk milk somatic cell count (BMSCC); herd health, management; mastitis; milking machine; milking technique; udder health

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae. Veterinaria
1998, number: 32ISBN: 91-576-5434-4
Publisher: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

      SLU Authors

    • Ekman, Torkel

      • Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Clinical Science
    Animal and Dairy Science

    Permanent link to this page (URI)