Dairy farmers send bulk tank milk samples to the laboratory to be analysed for a number of purposes:
Somatic Cell Count:
Changes over time are useful in the monitoring of a mastitis control programme, particularly when combined with the culling of individual high cell count cows.
Identification of Mastitis Pathogens:
From the beginning of 2011, the presence of mastitis-causing bacteria in milk will be determined by the use of real-time PCR to identify bacterial DNA. Up to 13 microorganisms associated with mastitis can be rapidly and reliably identified using methods developed by Finnzymes in Finland.
Infectious Disease Diagnostics:
In recent years, tremendous progress has been made in the use of milk (bulk tank and individual cow) to screen dairy herds for infectious diseases. From the beginning of 2011, FBA Laboratories will be testing milk for pathogens associated with infertility by both ELISA and PCR test methods. The disease screen includes BVD, IBR, Leptospirosis, Johne’s disease, Neospora, Mycoplasma bovis and Salmonella. For more information, check under Animal Health Services.
Milk production in dairy herds can be impaired by infestation with worms and/or fluke. Milk tests are available to indicate the levels of cow infestation with worms (Ostertagia) and liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica).
Milk Mineral Profile:
Veterinary practitioners and agricultural advisers monitor bulk tank mineral changes to ensure proper mineral nutrient balance. Trace mineral deficiencies will contribute to depressed animal immune status, and predispose a breeding herd to infertility problems. To reliably interpret mineral contents of milk, it is advisable to know the dietary mineral composition.
Milk Urea Nitrogen:
The level of urea in milk is highly correlated with blood urea concentration in the cow. Elevated milk urea nitrogen indicates an imbalance between rumen soluble carbohydrates and soluble protein intake. Excessive blood/milk urea nitrogen in spring grazing herds is associated with lower conception rates, particularly when cows are in negative energy balance.