Producers are being urged to maximise their contract returns by continuing to produce low somatic cell count milk. And feeding protected selenium can help, according to Azelis Animal Nutrition’s Jacob Lakin.
“Milk buyers penalise producers for high SCC milk, so it makes sense to continually manage and minimise this potential loss of income.
“It pays to target less than 100,000 cells/ml of milk all year-round, which indicates disease-free status and secures your payment bonuses,” says Mr Lakin.
As well as the immune status of the cow, many factors can influence somatic cell counts (SCCs), including breed, stage of lactation, body condition score, parity, seasonality, milking hygiene, and poor nutrition.
So producers must employ an integrated strategy to reduce mastitis incidence and high SCCs. Maintaining an adequate selenium status is particularly important as milking herds move into the early winter feeding period.
“Cows have a seleno-dependent enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, which protects the epithelial cells in the mammary gland from oxidative stress,” he explains.
“Research shows the beneficial effect of ensuring that the selenium levels supplied are adequate, within recommendations, and that the source of the trace element is of high quality.”
Mr Lakin adds that feeding a high-quality selenium enriched yeast such as Plexomin Se 2300ppm – with a significant fraction of the mineral supply coming from organic selenomethionine – will help as part of a multi-faceted approach to keep bulk milk tank SCCs below the crucial 100,000 cells/ml threshold.
“What’s more, in high SCC cows the milk yield and composition can also be adversely affected to deliver a ‘double whammy’ of lost returns.
“A reduction in milk yield is often associated with an increase in mastitis severity. When mastitis develops milk lactose concentration drops, which results in a lower output.
This yield reduction is also associated with the damage caused to the epithelial cells of the mammary gland, so any nutritional support that can help to offset this process is well worth considering,” he says.