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J Dairy Sci. 2007 Apr;90(4):1704-15.

The effect of season on somatic cell count and the incidence of clinical mastitis.

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Department of Health Management, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Canada C1A 4P3.


Bulk milk somatic cell count (BMSCC), individual cow somatic cell count (ICSCC), and incidence rate of clinical mastitis (IRCM) are all udder health parameters. So far, no studies have been reported on the effect of season on BMSCC, IRCM, and ICSCC in the same herds and period over multiple years. The objectives of this study were to determine the seasonal pattern over a 4-yr period of 1) BMSCC, 2) elevated ICSCC, 3) IRCM, and 4) pathogen-specific IRCM. Bulk milk somatic cell count, ICSCC, and pathogen-specific clinical mastitis data were recorded in 300 Dutch dairy farms. For the analyses of BMSCC, ICSCC, and IRCM, a mixed, a transitional, and a discrete time survival analysis model were used, respectively. Sine and cosine were included in the models to investigate seasonal patterns in the data. For all parameters, a seasonal effect was present. Bulk milk somatic cell count peaked in August to September in all 4 years. The probability of cows getting or maintaining a high ICSCC was highest in August and May, respectively. Older and late-lactation cows were more likely to develop or maintain a high ICSCC. Incidence rate of clinical mastitis was highest in December to January, except for Streptococcus uberis IRCM, which was highest in August. Totally confined herds had a higher Escherichia coli IRCM in summer than in winter. Compared with the major mastitis pathogens, the seasonal differences in IRCM were smaller for the minor pathogens. Distinguishing between Strep. uberis, Streptococcus dysgalactiae, Streptococcus agalactiae, and other streptococci is essential when identifying Streptococcus spp. because each of them has a unique epidemiology. Streptococcus uberis IRCM seemed to be associated with being on pasture, whereas E. coli IRCM was more housing-related.

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