Everyday when the milk truck picks up our milk they take a sample that will go to the lab for testing.
The lab kinda sorts our milk into parts, like butter fat, protein, and liquid. Holsteins are on the lower end of the butterfat(BF) spectrum. We feed for a higher butterfat more than quantity. Our BF averages is 4.2% compared to the industry Holstein average of 3.4%.
Then the lab looks for things like antibiotic residue or other harmful things that could make it into a milk tank. We would have to pay a big fine for these things, so believe me, we don't want that.
Finally, they test for micro organisms. We actually get paid extra for lower counts in this, so we try really hard to have good quality milk. And thanks to some help from our employees, we are doing pretty well.
There is bacteria, which seems self explanatory, and we have to stay below 50,000 per mil. One way to lower that is with a good cooling system. Our milk leaves the cow at 103 degrees, runs through a cooler plate and hits the tank 3 minutes later at 36 degrees.
There is Somatic Cells Count (SCC), I think of these as something like the white cell in your blood. Factors that seem to affect SCC are the stress factors, like rough handlers yelling at the cows (which I, as a lover of animals, will not tolerate on our farm), or even a bull we shipped because he was pushy to slower old cows. Plus it is affected by the cleanliness of the barn, so we want our girls to have a comfy bed to rest in. The new industry standard has been lowered from 600,000 to 400,000 per mil. Kroger is pushing for it to be lowered even more, go Kroger!
Finally there is the P.I.(Preliminary Incubation) count. These are bacteria that can tolerate cold. As we all know some bacteria, including the good ones in milk can tolerate cold. Again, this number needs to stay below 50,000 per mil.
We are currently in the top 10 percent of all dairy farms in the US for quality. We have kept our SCC average below 150,000 for three years, and are now staying below 100,000. In January of this year we received the highest quality premium that's paid because our average for that month was only72,000.
Our bacteria averages 2,000 for the year, the P.I. count is the same, 2,000 for the year.