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TOP QUALITY MILK
'As dairy farmers we have to make sure that the milk we supply meets the highest standards'
Production of maximum quantities of high quality milk is an important goal of our dairy operation. Poor quality milk affects all segments of the dairy industry, ultimately resulting in milk with decreased manufacturing properties and dairy products with reduced flavour quality and reduced shelf-life.
Over the years our milk processor has made significant changes to their milk quality requirements for incoming raw milk. These changes have occurred due to demands from retailers requiring milk with a higher quality to achieve a longer shelf life. Production of higher quality milk places a much greater emphasis on our management strategies to minimise contamination of milk including;
Cow and equipment cleanliness and sanitation procedures
Management strategies for the prevention and control of mastitis to reduce the number of somatic cells in milk
Effective milking-time hygiene
Proper milking machine function.
Pre and post milking teat disinfection
Antibiotic lactating and dry cow therapy
Culling of chronically infected cows
These are time-tested management strategies for controlling mastitis and are used extensively throughout the industry. Providing and maintaining a clean, dry, comfortable environment for heifers, lactating and dry cows helps reduce problems associated with environmental contamination of raw milk while also reducing mastitis caused by environmental mastitis pathogens.
A safe, wholesome, nutritious milk supply is our goal. Safety and quality of dairy products start at the farm and continue throughout the processing continuum. To meet increased raw milk quality standards, we must continue to adopt production practices that reduce mastitis and reduce bacterial contamination of our bulk tank milk. Use of effective management strategies to minimise contamination of raw milk and proven mastitis control strategies will help us achieve these important goals.
MILK QUALITY STANDARDS
SOMATIC CELL COUNT (SCC)
A high Somatic Cell Count is usually linked to Mastitis infections. Mastitis is the inflammation of the mammary gland and udder tissue and is a major endemic disease of dairy cattle. Milk-secreting tissues and various ducts throughout the udder can be damaged by bacterial toxins, and sometimes permanent damage to the udder occurs. Typically when clinical mastitis is detected, the cow is milked out and then given an intra-mammary infusion of antibiotic directly into the infected gland. The milk must be withdrawn until the antibiotic treatment is completed.
Early detection of mastitis gives better cure rates and minimises infection spread within the herd. Our milking routine in the parlour includes drawing milk from each quarter before attaching the cluster, cleaning off any dirt and post dipping with a disinfectant spray. Good hygiene is the key, particularly when cows are housed. We ensure that each cow has a clean, dry bed. Low levels of SCC (<200,000/ ml) are desirable to ensure good extraction of protein from milk. High levels of SCC also depress other constituent levels in milk, such as Lactose.
These are organisms capable of surviving the pasteurisation process, (under the spore form) and carry over into the final product, causing quality defects and reducing the shelf life of pasteurised milk. Levels higher than 1000/ml is generally the result of poor cow hygiene and milking equipment especially ineffective hot wash routines. Sources of Thermoduric bacteria include poor silage, dung, dirty animal bedding and soil.
Milk for human consumption must be stored in a refrigerated tank designed and equipped to avoid contamination. The milk in the tank needs to be cooled immediately cooled and held at a temperature between 2°- 4°C. Efficient cooling with good hygiene delivers quality milk.
Lactose is a natural sugar found in milk and is an important indicator of late lactation milk. Milk with lactose levels below 4.2% is unsuitable for processing into premium products and can cause serious problems in product quality, flavour and stability. Low lactose levels indicate a severe shortage on energy intake. Energy and protein intake in late lactation influence milk yield and milk constituents so it is essential that our cows diet is sufficient to produce the volume of milk without using her own body reserves.
Excessive chlorine traces in milk pose a serious health risk. If active chlorine comes in contact with an organic material such as milk, chlorine binds to the organic compound and forms total organic chlorine.
It is an offense to supply milk containing antibiotic residue. Every load of milk collected from our farm is tested for the presence of antibiotics. If a load fails, each milk supplier on that load will be tested. The individual whose sample tests positive will be responsible for all costs associated with the contaminated load and its disposal.
It is illegal to sell milk containing added water. Added water reduces the value of milk by diluting the protein and other milk components. Regular monitoring of milk for added water is determined by the freezing point using a Cryoscope. Levels of added water in milk should not exceed 1%.
Sediment in milk in general is due to poor pre-milking hygiene procedures that allow dirt, soil or other materials to enter the milking system. Sediment in milk is measured by filtering the milk through a fine filter.
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