Archive: British dairy farms realising milk quality improvements

Published 1 July 14

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A distinct improvement has been seen over the past 5 years in the quality of milk produced in GB, as measured by somatic cell counts (SCC). Average SCC levels have dropped from an annual average of 194 thousand per ml in 2009 to 171 thousand per ml in 2013, and have remained at low levels in 2014. These improvements are likely to have been the result of improved management practices, reduced levels of mastitis and changes to breeding.

SCC trends

High SCC levels are an indication of potential issues with mastitis, among other things, which can have a negative impact both on production and the price obtained for delivered milk. Milk contracts include several SCC 'thresholds', with associated bonuses and penalties, affecting the final price a producer obtains for their milk. Despite the improvements to SCC counts over the past 5 years these thresholds have not change substantially, allowing producers who have achieved lower SCC values to benefit from improved payments. 

The DairyCo Mastitis Control Plan can provide a cost-effective solution to mastitis prevention for those farmers who have not yet benefitted from lower SCC levels.