The BTSCC May Cost You Big $$ and Perhaps the Dairy, Too

Dr. Clell V. Bagley, D.V.M.,
USU Extension Veterinarian

Another study has shown that an increased bulk tank somatic cell count (BTSCC) is costing affected dairies potential income (JAVMA 218:1325-1330, Apr 15, 2001). The important losses identified in this study were due mostly to production loss. The calculations used did not include the lost incentives.

Would $10,000 to $30,000 extra income (per 100 cows) have helped your operation this year? A high or even medium BTSCC puts you at a serious to severe competitive disadvantage.

  Medium BTSCC
(200,000 to 399,999)
(Over 400,000)
Value of production difference
(compared to herds <200,000)
-$103.90* -$292.39*
*costs are per cow per year

Also very interesting to note, this study found the number of cows that died was 14.4% greater for herds with medium btscc and 51.6% greater for herds with a high btscc, compared to herds with btscc under 200,000. this emphasizes the relationship between btscc and cow health.

A comparison was also made between the data in this study and nine other studies done over the past 20 plus years. the results are all similar - elevated btscc (>200,000) reduces production and costs potential income.

I have found in herd evaluations for mastitis that herds with a BTSCC over 400,000 often have a problem with Staph aureus mastitis. When this is a problem, there is no quick fix. The producer can make good progress in six months, but it takes 1-2 years to get it back under control. But, if control measures are not implemented, the situation often becomes disastrous in the next 1-2 years.

I would encourage you to use this information to decide if your dairy has a problem that needs attention. If it does, get help to reduce the BTSCC.