Are we infecting our cows every time we milk?

Somatic Cell Counts per ml of milk indicate an immune response to an infection. Yet the inside of the udder is supposed to be a sterile environment. So, does a cow with 50,000 cells per ml of milk really have a low cell count? Should we be striving for zero cell counts per ml?
Work done by Pruex shows that cows teats maintain a high level of mastitis causing bacteria on their surfaces throughout the milking process regardless of teat preparation protocol or wether or not the cows are milked by robot, parlour, or if the apparatus have a back flush system or not. The teats pre preparation for milking are not clean of infective bacteria even though they have had a chemical disinfectant applied post the previous milking. Mastitis causing bacteria are present on the teats when the process of milking takes place, when the teat is surrounded by nice warm milk. The ultimate result is the need for antibiotics to treat the resulting clinical cases of mastitis.

Pruex work with farmers to evaluate the level of potential for infection their teat cleaning protocols produce. By knowing where in the process the cows are getting infected, farmers can use evidence to form prudent as opposed to excessive antibiotic use strategies for their cows. In other words, they can work out the best way to limit the risk of infection by bacteria of their cows' udders during the process of milking.
All too often we assume that the cows teats are clean because we use disinfectant teat dips or sprays. If you want to check this assumption out on your farm, please contact us.