Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Testing Milk

On our farm, we regularly weigh and test milk from each cow. This service is performed by Duane and Susan from Dairy One. They come to our farm once a month and stay 7 to 8 hours, which is the time it takes to do one of the three daily milkings. They place small containers at each of our 24 milking stalls to measure the quantity of milk produced by each cow during that milking. Using this data, they can tell us the daily milk production of each cow. 
This container collects and weighs the milk
Every other month, they collect a two ounce milk sample from each cow. These samples are delivered to a laboratory to be tested for fat content, protein content, Somatic Cell Count (SCC) and Milk Urea Nitrogen (MUN). SCC is a measure of white blood cells naturally present in cow’s milk (also found in human milk). White blood cells enable cows to fight infection and ensure good health. SCC is a general gauge of a cow's well-being. A more elevated white blood cell count indicates an infection in a cow. MUN is the concentration of urea nitrogen in milk. This information illustrates how cows are utilizing the crude protein they consume. A well-balanced diet results in a MUN ranging from 10 to 12 milligrams per deciliter. 

Duane checks the milk samples
During the milk testing process, Susan enters each cow’s eartag and milk weight into her computer. When the testing is complete, she downloads this information into the DariyComp 305 software in our computer. We receive the milk test results about one week later.
Duane records the cow's eartag numbers

Susan records the milk weights

Susan enters this data into her computer
DairyCOMP 305 is a computer software designed specifically for dairy farmers. This software helps us keep track of each animal’s reproduction, milk production and health information. It’s important to maintain accurate records on each animal.
Sometimes they have questions for Taylor about a specific cow
In addition to the individual cow samples, bulk tank milk samples are taken daily. The bulk tank is the refrigerated tank where our milk is stored until the milk truck picks it up each day. The results of these tests are complied by the Mideast Marketing Order #33. Daily bulk tank samples are tested for antibiotic residues, fat content, protein content, SCC, MUN and Other Solids. The minimum requirements (averaged monthly) are 3.5% butterfat, 2.99% protein, 5.69 other solids. We receive the results of these daily milk tests once each week.

The information gathered by the milk testing process is shared with the company who supplies us with the bull semen used to artificially inseminate our cows. This data helps them evaluate and market the bulls in their line-up. We also share this data with our nutritionist so he can put together a feed recipe that will meet the requirements of our cows.

Duane and Susan are a husband and wife team. They test milk at 70 dairy farms in Ohio and Pennsylvania each month. We appreciate the work they do because the information milk testing provides helps us manage our business and meet the needs of our animals.  

For more information about SCC and antibiotics in milk, check out these two blogs:
Is there Pus in Milk?
The Truth about Antibiotic Use

1 comment:

  1. Most of us milk is one of the favorite drink. This is good because this is the most healthy drink. It's nice to see this kind of study about milk testing process.


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