Mastitis in dairy cows and high somatic cell count go hand in hand. If a cow becomes infected with mastitis, the inflammation causes an increase in somatic cell count, which ultimately reduces the quality of milk.
A cow is particularly susceptible to infections like mastitis during the transition period. During transition, a cow has a lot going on. The cow is going to give birth and shortly after, milk production will ramp up. This causes the cow to enter into a negative energy balance (i.e., immune-compromised), leaving less nutrients available for the immune system.
A cow is also susceptible to mastitis during dry-off. After dry-off, a cow is not being milked. Therefore, infectious bacteria are not being flushed from the mammary gland on a regular basis. Additionally, shortly after dry-off, cows may be moved away from the herd and observed less often. Furthermore, dry cow pens are usually cleaned less often, causing those cows to be more susceptible to infection. If a cow gets mastitis during the dry period, there is a good chance she will calve and start lactation with an elevated somatic cell count.
Improving milk quality in transition cows starts with improving mammary health and preventing the spread of infectious bacteria. With proper management and nutrition strategies, your dairy cows can produce high-quality milk when they come into lactation.
Performance trace minerals, particularly zinc, improve immune function to reduce the incidence of mastitis in dairy cows and, therefore, reduce somatic cell count. Supplementing your dairy nutrition program with zinc from Zinpro Performance Minerals® can improve the production of keratin within the teat end. Zinc helps keep pathogens out of the mammary gland and can produce an extra milligram of teat keratin over the course of a day.
For heifers, we recommend supplementing their diets with Availa®Plus as early as possible. It is usually incorporated as part of the digital dermatitis formula, but the high zinc content will also help in improving epithelial health and teat keratin production. The DD formula is meant to be fed specifically to non-lactating heifers and has been shown to reduce somatic cell counts in early lactation for first-lactation cows when they consumed it as heifers.
For cows, we recommend including Availa®Dairy in their diets. With 40 ppm of zinc, it will have a big impact on improving epithelial health and keratin production. For best results, start supplementation about four weeks before calving.
To learn more about improving dairy cow nutrition with performance trace minerals, visit us online. To ask about including Availa-Plus or Availa-Dairy in your dairy cow nutrition plan, contact a Zinpro representative today.