Vet Sci. 2022 Nov 9;9(11):624. doi: 10.3390/vetsci9110624.
Intramammary infections (mastitis) of dairy cows, along with other periparturient diseases, have become problematic within the dairy industry as they lead to loss of milk production. The main objective of this study was to determine whether elevated somatic cell counts (SCC) in cows prior to drying off are related to the incidence of other periparturient diseases. Additionally, we determined whether milk composition and milk yield are affected by a high SCC prior to drying off. Somatic cell counts of milk samples were determined prior to dry off (n = 140) and were used to classify cows in the study as high (>200,000 cells/mL) or low (<200,000 cells/mL) SCC. The composition of milk was analyzed before drying off and at 1 and 2 weeks after calving. The results showed that an elevated SCC before drying off was related to the incidence of ketosis. Cows with a high SCC at drying off also showed an increased likelihood of retained placenta, metritis, and lameness postpartum; however, it was not statistically significant. Milk lactose was lower in cows with high SCC, whereas protein content was lower after parturition. Milk production was lower for cows with pre-drying elevated SCC, particularly for cows with retained placenta, ketosis, and mastitis. In conclusion, cows with pre-drying elevated SCC were more likely to develop disease after parturition and produce less milk and with lower lactose and protein content.