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Best time to sample for accurate Somatic Cell Counts

It has been recognized that there exists diurnal variation in Somatic Cell Counts (SCC). This study evaluated how sampling time between milkings affects the sensitivity and specificity of somatic cell count as an indicator for intramammary infection (IMI) status and which cells are responsible for diurnal variation. Quarter samples for SCC were collected immediately before the a.m. milking (pre-a.m.), halfway through the a.m. milking, immediately after the a.m. milking, every 60 min after. In quarters with elevated SCC, the proportion of polymorphonuclear leukocytes was larger immediately after milking. For accurate interpretations of SCC tests - whether by a laboratory, portable SCC device, or the California Mastitis Test- veterinarians, researchers, and udder health advisors should take milk samples immediately before milking.


Olde Riekerink, RG, HW Barkema, W Veenstra, FE Berg, H Stryn and RN Zadoks. 2007. Somatic cell count during and between milkings. J. Dairy Sci. 90 (8):3733-41.