Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen released the annual list of top Minnesota dairy herds with low somatic cell counts (SCC). Somatic cell count is a key indicator of milk quality – a lower SCC count is better for cheese production and a longer shelf life for bottled milk.
In honor of National Dairy Month, 93 Minnesota dairy farms are being recognized for their superior herd management skills by achieving an average SCC of under 100,000.
“I’m honored to recognize these dairies for their dedication to quality and excellence,” Petersen said. “Minnesota’s dairy farmers provide the state and the world with high quality, wholesome dairy products for us all to enjoy.”
Although somatic cells occur naturally and are not a food safety concern, dairy farmers monitor them because they can be used as a measure of the health of their cows. Processors also pay a premium for milk with low counts. A farmer whose herd has a very low count can receive a higher price per hundredweight compared to a farmer whose herd average is high.
Minnesota Department of Agriculture and University of Minnesota dairy experts have worked with the state’s dairy farmers for 20 years to lower somatic cell counts. When the initiative began in 2003, the herds honored that year included those with SCC averages as high as 144,000, compared to the current goal of obtaining a SCC under 100,000.
Local producers on the list that were nominated by their dairy plants.
•Hendel Farms, Houston
•Dev-Lin Holsteins LLC, Houston
•Houdek Dairy LLC, Houston
•Schulte Farms, Houston
•Schulte Farms of Caledonia LLC, Houston
•Hammell Dairy Inc., Houston
•Trailside Holsteins LLC, Fillmore
•Shir-Man Holsteins II, Fillmore
•Michael and Kris Banse, Houston
Visit www.mda.state.mn.us/food-feed/minnesota-dairy-herds-low-somatic-cell-counts-scc to see the full list.