Combination of differential and total somatic cell count allows 18% more udder infections to be spotted

New study confirms DSCC method as viable tool in mastitis management

By looking more closely at the cell distribution in the milk sample, it is possible to detect 18% more udder infections than by looking at somatic cell count alone. This was shown in a recent study conducted with Canadian dairy farms and confirms this so-called DSCC method as a reliable addition to the udder-management toolbox.


Mastitis is an inflammation of the udder, mostly caused by intramammary infection (IMI). Losses amount to millions of Euros per year. Milk testing and measuring the immune cells in the milk (Somatic Cell Count, SCC) is a great tool to detect mastitis and has become a standard tool in udder health management. Nontheless, mastitis remains a major threat to milk output which is why scientists at FOSS have developed a new tool to complement SCC.


This can help to help spot the disease earlier allowing for corrective action to be taken before the worst effects are felt by cow and farmer alike. “In 2017, we introduced the so-called DSCC (differential somatic cell count) method as an additional tool to SCC”, Dr. Daniel Schwarz, dairy farming senior specialist at FOSS Analytical explains.


The differential somatic cell count method
DSCC is the combined proportion of the white blood cells (immune cells) polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN) and lymphocytes, presented as a percentage of the total SCC. “A higher DSCC means that we are dealing with more pathogenic bacteria and tells us that a cow is actively combating pathogens. A farmer can then decide what the best action plan is. Knowing this extra information on top of SCC is valuable in udder health monitoring programmes because undetected and untreated IMI by mastitis pathogens clearly present a risk for spreading IMI in a dairy herd”, Dr. Schwarz explains.


18% more udder infections identified

In a recent scientific study, published in the August 2020 edition of Preventive Veterinary Medicine, it was shown that the combination of SCC and DSCC allows identification of more IMI (+ 18%) than SCC alone. The study involved eleven dairy farms with a total number of 969 Holstein Friesian cows (lactating and dry) located in the province of Québec, Canada and is the first study ever where DSCC is evaluated as a possible new supplementary parameter to SCC in udder health monitoring programmes through regular DHI testing. 


“The results of this new study are very exciting and confirm that our method allows us to improve udder health and thus eventually reduce mastitis cases. And applying the DSCC method doesn’t require any extra work as we can measure DSCC routinely and simultaneously to SCC on samples that are collected and sent to laboratories anyway,” Dr. Schwarz addresses.


Over 100 installations of DSCC analyser
In the past, cell differentiation in milk was seen as a pure scientific, time consuming and costly activity. “We can measure DSCC with our up to 600-sample per hour high-throughput flow-cytometry-based analyser (Fossomatic™ 7 DC). Since its launch in 2017, over 100 installations of the Fossomatic™ 7 DC have been completed at milk testing centres around the world.

“Pathogens that cause mastitis are constantly evolving and different pathogens might in turn have a different effect on the immune cells in the milk and the type of immune cells that are triggered. With the ability to use DSCC as an addition to SCC we add new measures to better tackle this complex disease”, Dr. Schwarz concludes.



About FOSS Analytical A/S:

FOSS contributes to the sustainable use of our planet’s agricultural resources and thus to the nutrition and health of the people of the world. Through analytics, FOSS adds value to customers by improving food quality and optimising production, from raw material to finished product. By turning measurement into information, businesses can run intelligent, data-driven productions with less waste and bigger yields. Nils Foss founded the family-owned company in Hillerød, Denmark in 1956. Today, FOSS employs more than 1,500 highly qualified people worldwide.


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