Somatic cell counts in milk bulk tanks have declined every year since 2007, according to a new USDA report.
In fact, the improvement has been rather dramatic, going from 260,000 cells per mL., on average, in 2007 to 194,000 in 2012.
Between 2011 and 2012, the average bulk tank somatic cell count (BTSCC) fell 12,000 cells/mL., according to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Agricultural Marketing Service, in cooperation with the National Mastitis Council.
The data come from four of the nation’s 10 Federal Milk Marketing Orders.
In the United States, the legal maximum BTSCC for Grade A milk shipments is 750,000 cells per mL.
During 2012, more than 99 percent of milk and shipments monitored met that standard, and of the 28,274 producers, 96.5 percent shipped milk with BTSCCs below 750,000 cells per mL. through the entire year. In fact, BTSCC in 95.6 percent of milk was less than a lower standard of 400,000 cells per ml, and 64.5 percent of producers shipped milk below this limit for the entire year.
Since 1997, the milk-weighted BTSCCs in the United States have decreased by 101,000 cells per mL, or 34.2 percent.
The full info sheet titled “Determining U.S. Milk Quality Using Bulk-tank Somatic Cell Counts, 2012” is available online.