Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 February 2006
High somatic cell count (SCC) affects milk quality and cheesemaking, resulting in a reduction in cheese yield and quality. In dairy cows, quarter milk samples with >200000 cells/ml are considered to have subclinical mastitis, while there is much uncertainty on the corresponding levels of SCC in buffalo milk. In this study 30 lactating water buffaloes were selected and SCC, differential somatic cell counts and several whey components were tested in quarter milk samples to assess the relationship between inflammation markers and milk quality. Overall 236 quarter milk samples were considered. To evaluate the relationship between cellular markers (SCC, polymorphonuclear leucocytes, PMN, and N-Acetyl-β-glucosaminidase, NAGase) and other milk components, three classes were defined (low, medium and high). Analysis of milk yield showed a significant reduction in the high class of each of the three markers chosen. Overall, the highest class was characterized by significant changes in milk composition and a lower milk quality. The presence of an inflammatory status of the udder was frequent after the first trimester of lactation and in buffaloes with two or more parturitions. This study showed that significant changes in milk components can be observed when SCC are >400000 cells/ml, PMN are >50% and NAGase is >100 units. These thresholds could be suggested as levels to define udder health status in buffalo cows.