Automatic detection of clinical mastitis is improved by in-line monitoring of somatic cell count

C. Kamphuis, R. Sherlock, J. Jago, G. Mein, H. Hogeveen

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53 Citations (Scopus)


This study explored the potential value of in-line composite somatic cell count (ISCC) sensing as a sole criterion or in combination with quarter-based electrical conductivity (EC) of milk, for automatic detection of clinical mastitis (CM) during automatic milking. Data generated from a New Zealand research herd of about 200 cows milked by 2 automatic milking systems during the 2006¿2007 milking season included EC, ISCC, monthly laboratory-determined SCC, and observed cases of CM that were treated with antibiotics. Milk samples for ISCC and laboratory-determined SCC were taken sequentially at the end of a cow milking. Both samples were derived from a composite cow milking obtained from the bottom of the milk receiver. Different time windows were defined in which true-positive, false-negative, and false-positive alerts were determined. Quarters suspected of having CM were visually checked and, if CM was confirmed, sampled for bacteriological culturing and treated with an antibiotic treatment. These treated quarters were considered as gold-standard positives for comparing CM detection models. Alert thresholds were adjusted to achieve a sensitivity of 80% in 3 detection models: using ISCC alone, EC alone, or a combination of these. The success rate (also known as the positive predictive value) and the false alert rate (number of false-positive alerts per 1,000 cow milkings) were used to evaluate detection performance. Normalized ISCC estimates were highly correlated with normalized laboratory-determined SCC measurements (r = 0.82) for SCC measurements >200 x 103 cells/mL. Using EC alone as a detection tool resulted in a range of 6.9 to 11.0% for success rate, and a range of 4.7 to 7.8 for the false alert rate. Values for the ISCC model were better than the model using EC alone with 12.7 to 15.6% for the success rate and 2.9 to 3.7 for the false alert rate. Combining sensor information to detect CM, by using a fuzzy logic algorithm, produced a 2- to 3-fold increase in the success rate (range 21.9 to 32.0%) and a 2- to 3-fold decrease in the false alert rate (range 1.2 to 2.1) compared with the models using ISCC or EC alone. Results suggest that the performance of a CM detection system improved when ISCC information was added to a detection model using EC information.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4560-4570
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • milk electrical-conductivity
  • subclinical mastitis
  • fuzzy-logic
  • dairy-cows
  • management
  • estrus
  • system

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