SCC: Complying with new regs


Since January 1, the U.S. dairy industry has been transitioning into compliance with the European Union (EU) regulations for somatic cell counts (SCC). 

The European Health Certification Program requires all milk and milk products imported into the EU have a SCC below 400,000 cells/ml at the individual farm level. Currently, the maximum SCC allowed in the US remains 750,000 cell/ml.

Producers shipping milk to processors who export dairy products to the EU are directly affected by this new rule. To be in compliance, producers are required to have a rolling three month SCC average below 400,000 cells/ml. In cases where SCC remains higher than 400,000 cells/ml, dairy products manufactured from milk from those farms would not be eligible for export to the EU. Because milk is comingled at plants prior to processing, manufactures with an export market will cease to accept milk that doesn’t meet the new standards.

Now is the time to make changes to improve SCC. Added benefits include higher milk production, lower disease and, potentially, more premiums. Lowering the SCC has proven benefits for you as a producer, for your cows and for the products made from the milk. Current U.S. limits assure food safety, but milk with lower cell counts results in better cheese yields and fluid milk products have a longer shelf life.


Methods to reduce SCC include:

• Good sanitation and management practices: Improve sanitation to decrease mastitis by keeping the udder clean and free of pathogenic bacteria that cause mastitis. Reduce teat contamination by eliminating mud. Milk clean, dry teats.

• Nutrition: Feed a balanced ration to help maintain the cow’s immune function increasing her resistance to mastitis pathogens.

• Lactating cows: Monitor cows monthly using individual SCC records. Follow proper and sanitary milking procedure with properly maintained equipment.

• Dry Cows: Prevent new cases of mastitis during dry periods by using dry cow therapy and teat sealants to avoid bacterial invasion.

• Culling cows: Cull cows with very high SCC that do not respond to antibiotic therapy or that have chronic mastitis.

Visit with your veterinarian about these and other strategies to decrease SCC in your herd. Remember that producing milk with low SCC is both a necessary and profitable management tool.

For further information, visit our website at:



  Contact AgriLife Extension Service, call 972-952-9212 or e-mail