Skip to main content

View Diary: BIG BIG BIG Victory This Week (After 20 Years of Waiting) (194 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  I own a small licensed (11+ / 0-)

    sheep dairy. The government tests all fluid milk producers for somatic cell counts.  It's pretty strict, and if you fail the minimum, all your milk goes in the garbage until you test well again.  The cheese makers I sell to also test somatic cell counts, and they're even stricter.  You get paid bonuses for having low counts.

    So to say the least, somatic cell counts and mastitis is the biggest worry of most dairy farmers because it can mean a huge loss.  

    Here on my farm we test each sheep ourselves as well about once every two weeks with one of three different tests that we have.  And we're an all-natural, grass-fed operation.  But mastitis can come from any number of places, no matter how clean and healthy your operation is.  They do live outdoors, after all.  Lamb teeth are a big culprit.  That said, we have been very lucky and have only ever seen three cases.

    Furthermore, somatic cells are just a type of white blood cell and are present in all milk, even human.  That's why they have different counts for different animals, because each has a different 'normal' count.  

    The reason somatic cells are counted is because an elevated sloughing of these cells is an indicator of an infection of some type (mastitis is just a general term for udder infection, not a particular strain).  

    So the goal is never to have zero somatic cells as that would be impossible.  But through pampering, the goal is to get the count as low as possible.  You don't want to know the number of disinfectants, soaps, balms and ointments available out there to keep Daisy's (and Dolly's) udders in top form and looking fabulous .

    I can't imagine ever giving any of my animals anything that shows an increase in the number of mastitis infections.  All other dangers aside, that's such a huge risk if the increase is significant.

    But the minimum federal standard is a very strict one, so I wouldn't worry about the amount of so-called 'pus' in your milk.

    So this statement from Jill is very inaccurate and misleading:

    ...resulting in more "somatic cells" (i.e. pus) in the milk.

    However, I do agree that rbGH has no place in our food supply.  Just giving everyone the benefit of my knowledge.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site