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    The aim of this study was to investigate the associations between differential somatic cell count (DSCC) and milk quality and udder health traits, and for the first time, between DSCC and milk coagulation properties and cheesemaking traits in a population of 1,264 Holstein cows reared in northern Italy. Differential somatic cell count represents the combined proportions of polymorphonuclear neutrophils plus lymphocytes (PMN-LYM) in the total somatic cell count (SCC), with macrophages (MAC) making up the remaining proportion. The milk traits investigated in this study were milk yield (MY), 8 traits related to milk composition and quality (fat, protein, casein, casein index, lactose, urea, pH, and milk conductivity), 9 milk coagulation traits [3 milk coagulation properties (MCP) and 6 curd firming (CF) traits], 7 cheesemaking traits, 3 cheese yield (CY) traits, and 4 milk nutrient recovery in the curd (REC) traits. A linear mixed model was fitted to explore the associations between SCS combined with DSCC and the aforementioned milk traits. An additional model was run, which included DSCC expressed as the PMN-LYM and MAC counts, obtained by multiplying the percentage of PMN-LYM and MAC by SCC in the milk for each cow in the data set. The unfavorable association between SCS and milk quality and technological traits was confirmed. Increased DSCC was instead associated with a linear increase in MY, casein index, and lactose proportion and a linear decrease in milk fat and milk conductivity. Accordingly, DSCC was favorably associated with all MCP and CF traits (with the exception of the time needed to achieve maximum, CF), particularly with rennet coagulation time, and it always displayed linear relationships. Differential somatic cell count was also positively associated with the recovery of milk nutrients in the curd (protein, fat, and energy), which increased linearly with increasing DSCC. The PMN-LYM count was rarely associated with milk traits, even though the pattern observed confirmed the results obtained when both SCS and DSCC were included in the model. The MAC count, however, showed the opposite pattern: MY, casein index, and lactose percentage decreased and milk conductivity increased with an increasing MAC count. No significant association was found between PMN-LYM count and MCP, CF, CY, and REC traits, whereas MAC count was unfavorably associated with MCP, CF traits, some CY traits, and all REC traits. Our results showed that the combined information derived from SCS and DSCC might be useful to monitor milk quality and cheesemaking-related traits. Copyright © 2021 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


    S Pegolo, D Giannuzzi, V Bisutti, R Tessari, M E Gelain, L Gallo, S Schiavon, F Tagliapietra, E Trevisi, P Ajmone Marsan, G Bittante, A Cecchinato. Associations between differential somatic cell count and milk yield, quality, and technological characteristics in Holstein cows. Journal of dairy science. 2021 Apr;104(4):4822-4836

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    PMID: 33612239

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