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This article is part of the supplement: Focus on Bovine Mastitis: knowledge into practice

Open Access Research

Farm management factors associated with bulk tank somatic cell count in Irish dairy herds

PT Kelly12*, K O'Sullivan3, DP Berry1, SJ More2, WJ Meaney1, EJ O'Callaghan1 and B O'Brien1

Author Affiliations

1 Moorepark Dairy Production Research Centre, Fermoy, Co. Cork, Ireland

2 School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

3 Department of Statistics, School of Mathematical Sciences, University College Cork, Cork, Co. Cork, Ireland

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Irish Veterinary Journal 2009, 62(Suppl 4):S45-51  doi:10.1186/2046-0481-62-S4-S45

Published: 1 April 2009

Abstract

The relationship between bulk tank somatic cell count (SCC) and farm management and infrastructure was examined using data from 398 randomly selected, yet representative, Irish dairy farms where the basal diet is grazed grass. Median bulk tank SCC for the farms was 282,887 cells/ml ranging from 82,209 to 773,028 cells/ml. Two questionnaires were administered through face-to-face contact with each farmer. Herd-level factors associated with bulk tank SCC were determined using linear models with annual somatic cell score (i.e., arithmetic mean of the natural logarithm of bulk tank SCC) included as the dependent variable. All herd level factors were analysed individually in separate regression models, which included an adjustment for geographical location of the farm; a multiple regression model was subsequently developed. Management practices associated with low SCC included the use of dry cow therapy, participation in a milk recording scheme and the use of teat disinfection post-milking. There was an association between low SCC and an increased level of hygiene and frequency of cleaning of the holding yard, passageways and cubicles. Herd management factors associated with bulk tank SCC in Irish grazing herds are generally in agreement with most previous studies from confinement systems of milk production.

Keywords:
bulk tank; dairy cattle; infrastructure; management; somatic cell count