Physiological Aspects of Milk Somatic Cell Count in Dairy Cattle


  • Kaskous, S. Department of Research and Development, Siliconform, Schelmengriesstrasse 1, 86842 Türkheim, GERMANY



Cow, Milk, Milking Machine, MultiLactor, Milk processing, Physiology, Somatic Cell Count


An assessment criterion for the raw milk quality and the udder health of dairy cattle is the milk somatic cell count (SCC). Somatic cells are part of the udders' immune system and the protective mechanisms of the mammary gland. They are always present in milk, but increase when an infectious agent enters the udder or the udder is injured. The present study sheds light on some physiological aspects of milk SCC in dairy cattle. Somatic cell counts of up to 100,000 cells/ml milk at the individual animal level are referred to as the normal physiological range. However, the number and the differential cell pattern of these cells in healthy dairy cattle is determined by physiological factors such as milking fraction, lactation stage, parity and breed of the dairy cattle. The following proportions of SCC are found in the milk produced in a healthy udder: macrophages (58%), polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN) (12 %), lymphocytes (28%) and epithelial cells (2%) of the total SCC. If the udder is contaminated, the SCC in the milk increases sharply and the PMN content of the milk also increases significantly (up to 90%). It is noteworthy that not every increase in SCC in milk indicates an infection of the udder. There are around 15% milk samples that contain a higher number of cells and at the same time no pathogens are present in the udder. Furthermore, the SCC level and the milk quality depend on the milking technology and routine. Thus, the milking machine is seen as an important factor in milk performance and quality. Due to the observed effects, the use of a quarter individual milking system “MultiLactor” has a positive significant impact on udder health and therefore the SCC remains in the range of the physiological level. In addition, it is necessary to adapt the housing system to the requirements of the dairy cattle to stabilize a low SCC and healthy udders. It is also noted that increasing SCC in milk is a decrease in raw milk quality, which affects milk processing. Therefore, the researcher suggests that the upper limit for SCC for cheese milk should be 100,000 per ml. In conclusion, prevention is the key to long-term low milk SCC. This can be achieved through the use of the right milking technology, appropriate husbandry, good feeding and implementation of hygiene measures.


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How to Cite

Kaskous, S. (2021). Physiological Aspects of Milk Somatic Cell Count in Dairy Cattle. International Journal of Livestock Research, 11(10), 1–12.

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