Milk losses associated with somatic cell counts per breed, parity and stage of lactation in Canadian dairy cattle

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Abstract

The reduction in milk production caused by subclinical mastitis in dairy cattle was assessed through the regression of test day milk yield on log-transformed somatic cell counts (LnSCC). Data was obtained from Valacta, Quebec, and a total of 312,756 test day records from Ayrshire cows and 1,869,785 test day records from Holstein cows were included in the analyses. A segmented regression was fitted to estimate the cutoff point in the LnSCC scale where milk yield starts to be affected by mastitis. The statistical model used to explain daily milk yield included the effects of herd–year-season of test (random), days in milk, age at calving and LnSCC, and analyses were performed by breed, parity and stage of lactation. The cutoff point where milk yield starts to be affected by changes in LnSCC was estimated from data to be around 2 (approximately 7400 cells/mL) for Canadian Ayrshires and Holsteins. Milk losses per unit increase in LnSCC varied from 0.55 to 0.84 kg/day in first lactation Ayrshires, from 0.33 to 0.55 kg/day in first lactation Holsteins, from 0.74 to 2.45 kg/day in adult Ayrshires and from 0.77 to 1.78 kg/day in adult Holsteins. Daily milk losses caused by changes in LnSCC were dependent on breed, parity and stage of lactation, and these factors should be considered when estimating losses associated with subclinical mastitis.