A Canadian company, Dairy Quality, unveiled a new product called Dairy Quality, a small black box that slides onto the back of an iPhone.® A farmer inserts a plastic slide containing a milk sample from one of his cows, and the device counts the number of somatic cells (a high somatic cell count can be an indicator of mastitis, an infection of the udder tissue).
Counting somatic cells used to require sending milk to an offsite lab and waiting a week or more for results; using a microscope and an app, Dairy Quality can analyze a sample on location in six seconds or less.
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Instant feedback and immediate access to test results are key: a sick cow can be removed from production right away, instead of waiting to find out if one needs help. And the timing for the introduction of the new technology couldn’t be better, the company reports.
New health standards for milk from North American farms, almost twice as stringent as previous in some regions, have recently been put into place.
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SCC monitoring is important because high numbers of somatic cells indicate the presence of pathogens and toxins. Infection can lead to tissue damage in a cow’s udder, as well as a decline in milk production. Dairy SCC allows farmers to detect even minor elevations in SCC when they’re at the sub-clinical level.
“When infections are detected early, cows can be treated faster. Since the data is instantly available on an iPhone or iPod, it can be emailed to a vet right away,” says Chris Gans, Vice President Sales and Chief Marketing Officer. “The farmer and the vet can come up with a treatment strategy together, addressing problems before they get worse.”