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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Paape, Max
item Wiggans, George
item Bannerman, Douglas
item Thomas, D
item Sanders, A H
item Contreas, A
item Moroni, P
item Miller, R

Submitted to: Mastitis Council Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/14/2005
Publication Date: 1/22/2006
Citation: Paape, M.J., Wiggans, G.R., Bannerman, D.D., Thomas, D.L., Sanders, A., Contreas, A., Moroni, P., Miller, R.D. 2006. Effect of Tear, Stage of Lactation, Parity, Breed and Region on Goat Milk Somatic Cell Counts. National Mastitis Council (NMC) 45th Annual Meeting Proceedings. pp. 256-257.

Interpretive Summary: Dairy goat producers are going out of business because of their failure to meet the legal limit of one million cells/ml of milk, established by the FDA for goat milk in the U.S. There is no legal limit in the European Union (EU). The EU recognizes that goats normally have high milk somatic cell counts. Recently, ARS scientists at Beltsville analyzed test-day somatic cell scores from 26,607 goats on Dairy Herd Improvement test across the U.S. for the years 2000 through 2004. What they discovered was that somatic cell counts increased with stage of lactation as well as lactation number or parity. Counts were lowest at first parity, averaging approximately 200,000/ml at 15 days of lactation and reached maximum counts of around 500,000/ml at 315 days of lactation. By the fifth parity, counts averaged approximately 250,000/ml at 15 days and increased to a maximum of approximately 1,150,000/ml at 285 days of lactation. The scientists concluded that non-infectious factors, such as stage of lactation and parity, that contribute to elevations in somatic cell counts for goats need to be considered when establishing legal cell count limits.

Technical Abstract: The milk somatic cell count (MSCC) forms the basis of abnormal milk control programs world wide for goats, cows and sheep. To better understand factors that contribute to elevations in MSCC, the effects of stage of lactation, parity, breed and state/area in the United States (US) on goat MSCC were examined. Least squares means were calculated on composite milk somatic cell scores from 26,607 goats and converted back to MSCC. MSCC increased with stage of lactation and parity. By the fifth parity, counts for goats increased to 1,150,000/ml, exceeding the 1,000,000/ml legal limit for goat milk in the US. Currently, there is no legal limit for goat milk in the EU. Breed and state/area contributed to variation in cell count. Studies in the US and EU examined non-infectious factors contributing to elevations in cell counts. Non-infectious factors such as parity and stage of lactation had a major impact on counts for goats, and need to be considered when establishing legal limits for goat milk.

Last Modified: 05/21/2017
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