Canadian Dairy Somatic Cell Count Policy Change


Canadian Dairy Milk SCC Standard Change to 400,000

By Amanda Brodhagen,

Dairy farmers across Canada are halfway through implementing the new somatic cell regulatory change from 500,000 to 400,000 cells per milliliter of milk. This is the latest milk quality commitment Dairy Farmers of Canada have made after implementing the Canadian Quality Milk program (CQM). The change was made back in 2007 at the Dairy Farmers of Canada?s annual policy conference where delegates agreed to change the national somatic cell count (SCC) standard. The policy change came into effect at the beginning of August 2012, so farmers are almost halfway through their first month implementing the policy on their farm operation.

Higher SCC doesn?t pose a risk to human health. However, it does decrease fluid milk shelf life and decrease cheese yields. The new regulatory measure is comparable to standards in the E.U. including countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland and Norway. In the U.S. it?s a different story - their current national SCC regulatory limit is 750,000.

As dairy farmers know all too well, SCC is one of the hardest milk quality indicators to manage on-farm. There are so many different factors that can affect SCC which makes it a challenge on almost every dairy operation across the country. The SCC penalty will still apply despite the recent change and producers will be subject to penalty if their monthly weighted-average is higher than the new regulatory limit. During this process, dairy farmers will receive warnings if their SCC is getting too high.

There are some general farm management techniques that can help reduce SCC levels:

? Environmental management including cleaning stalls, ensuring drinking water is clean
? Removal of udder hair
? Examining both pre and post milking procedures
? Keeping a closer eye on cows who have a history of high SCC
? Monitoring mastitis infection rates
? Analysing cultures and milk quality reports
? Dry-off cows following lactation treatment procedures
? Paying particular attention to calving pens
? Consistent nutrition progress for spring heifers, dry and lactating cows