22 November 1996

MONITOR KEEPS TABS ON

ON CLEANLINESS

Wiseman Dairies ensures hygienic quality of its milk supply using independent on farm monitoring. Jonathan Riley reports

MILK hygiene will be increasingly important to the consumer in the future and supermarkets will source milk from suppliers able to verify good practice on farm.

This is the view of dairy producer Philip Robinson, who runs a 140-cow herd on 83ha (205 acres) near Madeley, Staffs. He now supplies milk buyer Robert Wiseman which has produced a 32-point hygiene standard.

"We sought an outlet specialising in liquid milk production and one that shared our views on the need to assure consumers of our milks hygiene to provide future market security," says Mr Robinson.

"Before we joined Wiseman, cell counts for the herd were already low at 80,000 and total bacteria counts 4.25."

He believes achieving low cell counts is a matter of daily diligence and dedication to the task of improving and maintaining milk hygiene. And that the stockmans role is vital.

"Once the parlour and surround is clean it takes us only 15 minutes at the end of each milking to clean equipment," he says.

Cleanliness improved markedly when Mr Robinson replaced the 16:16 herringbone parlour with a 20:20 and covered rendered walls with a plastic wall lining. This only requires a monthly wash with soap and water.

"Though not stipulated by the standard we wear gloves during milking which reduces the number of bugs coming into contact with the teat," he says.

Separate clusters are used for any mastitic cows which are identified with a red marker so there is no doubt as to what is being treated; their milk is dumped to avoid any risk of contamination.

Because cubicles, passageways and collecting areas are scraped thoroughly, the cows teat reaches the parlour requiring only a dry wipe and mastitis cases number only seven for every 100 cows.

"Everything else we practise fits in with the Wiseman standard which we use as a framework. And as the standard is monitored by Genus we use our consultant for advice if we have any queries," says Mr Robinson.

His Genus consultant is Rob Holliday who says that first contact with a prospective client for Wiseman is made over the phone. This is followed by an initial assessment of the farm. But Mr Holliday points out that the assessments are not conducted on a pass or fail basis – rather Genus draws up recommendations for improvements needed so that producers can reach the standard required.

"The Wiseman quality code provides detailed guidelines of hygienic standards and cleaning routines for milk producers with the aim of guaranteeing consistent high quality milk production in facilities clean enough to be acceptable to the consumer," says Mr Holliday.

In the parlour external surfaces must be cleaned regularly and wall surfaces must be of a recommended type so that muck can be removed. Equipment must be checked annually and cleaned using the correct volume of water at the right temperature and for a stipulated duration.

During milking the standard stipulates teat dipping dry wiping, and recommends foremilking.

Staffs producer Philip Robinson (left) has no trouble ensuring that milk from his Hungerford House Farm meets the exacting standards of milk buyer Wiseman. Thats thanks in part to help from Genus consultant Rob Holliday.


HYGIENIC STANDARDS


&#8226 Collecting yards scraped after each milking.

&#8226 Parlour equipment checked annually.

&#8226 Teat dipping and foremilking required.

Cleanliness improved markedly when Philip Robinson replaced his 16:16 herringbone with this 20:20 design.