4 April 1997

Quality bonuses need top rate management

NEW quality bonuses of up to 0.6p/litre are achievable but only by producers able to reach top standards in all aspects of dairy management – housing, the milking machine, and cow cleanliness.

Central to achieving a low Bactoscan are plant cleaning and milk cooling, says Genuss milking systems regional manager Kate Clayton.

"High Bactoscan results tend to reflect poor plant or bulk tank cleaning, or inadequate milk cooling, and mastitis and teat cleanliness will also contribute to counts."

Plant cleaning temperature is most important, she stresses. "Check that water enters the hot wash trough at 85C (185F) and that in all parts of the plant it is above 65C (149F) during circulation." A wash cycle test will indicate whether the correct temperature is being achieved, she adds.

Worn rubber ware can increase Bactoscans, as can high milk stone deposits in the plant. "Use milk stone remover regularly, especially in hard water areas."

Ms Clayton also urges the need to cool milk as quickly as possible. "Pre-cooling has a positive effect on Bactoscan levels because it helps reduce temperatures more quickly."

When these areas have been checked and Bactoscans are still high, Ms Clayton suggests that carrying out a bacteriology test on a series of bulk milk samples will help identify difficulties.

As for somatic cell counts, Ms Clayton says the 150,000/ml standard is achievable by both large and small producers. "Individual cell count records will help, but the key here really is attention to detail."n

Top hygienic quality milk is now becoming more important as a route to increasing dairy profits.