The objective was to evaluate the relationship of somatic cell count (SCC; cells/mL) with milk yield, energy-corrected milk yield (ECM; kg/d), dry matter intake (DMI; kg/d), feed efficiency for milk (FEMY; kg of milk/kg of DMI), and feed efficiency for ECM (FEECM; kg of ECM/kg of DMI) in lactating dairy cows. We analyzed an SCC database consisting of 7 experiments, which were conducted at The Pennsylvania State University's Dairy Teaching and Research Center between 2009 and 2015. The experiments included in the SCC database were randomized block designs and investigated dietary effects on cow performance over 6 to 11 wk. Each experiment took repeated measurements of SCC, milk yield, milk composition, and DMI. After exclusion of records from cows without lactation number, days in milk, and only 1 measurement, the database comprised 1,094 observations of 254 cows for estimating the effect of SCC on milk yield, DMI, and FEMY and 1,079 observations of 250 cows for estimating the effect of SCC on ECM and FEECM. Data were analyzed in R using a linear mixed model with natural logarithm of SCC, lactation number (1, 2, and ≥3), days in milk, and the interactions of the linear predictors as fixed effects and cow within block and experiment as random effect. Natural logarithm of SCC was negatively correlated with milk yield, ECM, DMI, FEMY, and FEECM. Our results suggest that a cow with relatively high SCC (250,000 cells/mL) compared with a cow with a relatively low SCC (50,000 cells/mL) produces, on average, 1.6 kg/d less milk, consumes 0.3 kg/d less DMI, produces 0.04 kg less milk per kg of DMI, and produces 0.03 less ECM per kg of DMI. The observed decrease of feed efficiency with increased SCC adds to previously known economic losses and environmental impacts associated with mastitis, which should provide a further incentive to control mastitis in dairy cows.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology