Bringing Udder Health and Milk Quality to Life

Good quality milk is the key goal for the global dairy industry. Not just for milk that consumers drink, but also to enable the production of high quality dairy producers like cheese, ice cream and yogurt. So how do we know if the milk being produced on the farm is of high quality? Well, the global dairy industry evaluates milk quality, and gains insight into the health of each cow’s udder, by looking at the natural white blood cells and udder cells found in milk, which are collectively known as somatic cells (SCC). Farmers are producing more milk than in 1985 and have much lower levels of SCC in their herds. This speaks to farmers’ commitment to milk quality and animal care, and also demonstrates the impact of global genetic improvement in cows for milk production.

While the Ontario dairy industry had made great progress over a 30-year period, there is still room to improve. Seasonal trends in SCC are still seen, and many farms follow this average trend. However, some manage to consistently produce high quality milk with more regular SCC levels year-round. These farms are proactively managing cows and keeping their herd cool, dry, and comfortable during the summer months. Making for better environmental conditions for cows and maintaining clean and consistent best milking practices should continue to be a top priority for the industry.

To communicate the epidemiological data described above, ACER created an engaging data visualization video. The video was shared across a variety of media formats such as meetings, conferences, emails, and twitter to engage more stakeholders. The tool was also evaluated for its success in communicating information and those who viewed the video found it to be an interesting and effective method to mobilize knowledge related to the Canadian dairy industry.

The primary objective of this project was to develop an innovative teaching tool for undergraduate students to mobilize research on udder health and milk quality in the Canadian dairy industry. The video tool is expected to be integrated by various faculty within the
Department of Population Medicine when teaching in-class and online in the 2017/2018 academic year for undergraduate, graduate, and veterinary students.



Do you have a special scientific communication project you’re looking for advice on? Need a website or educational toolkit built to deliver your messages? Give us a shout at and we’ll be happy to discuss how we can support your next project!



Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph

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Agricultural Communications &
Epidemiological Research

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