6.16.15 / admin
Dairy Diary – Confidently Raising Safe Milk – Day 5
I am a dairy farmer, but I am a mother first. Our family eats what our farm produces. I want to make sure that what my children eat is safe and nutritious. I am confident in knowing that the dairy products are just that: safe and nutritious.
We take antibiotics seriously on our farm. I believe a common misconception is that we routinely give our cows antibiotics when they are not sick. Antibiotics are a last resort for us. We treat our cows depending on the illness. For example, we would apply an udder cream for a cow with mastitis. It all comes down to what exactly the cow has and how serious it is. If we decide to administer an antibiotic, there are several steps we take to ensure it doesn’t enter the milk supply.
- Every cow gets red leg bands prior to being treated.
- Once she receives her leg bands, her information is written down on a white board in our milking parlor as well as a treatment book. We write down her number (for identification), the date treated, what she was treated with and the date at the end of the withdrawal period.
- While undergoing treatment, all of her milk goes into a bucket before being disposed of. This milk never reaches our bulk supply. Before any other cows can enter our milking parlor, all the equipment used to milk her has to be cleaned.
- The process of milking her separate from the herd continues for the entire milk-withhold period according to the antibiotics instruction, or maybe even longer depending on the situation.
- On our farm, we have a milk tester. We can test the milk from that cow before we add her back with the rest of the herd to ensure the milk is antibiotic-free.
That is what is done by us to ensure that antibiotics do not taint our milk supply. So what happens if a step gets missed?
- Depending on the farm and location, milk is picked up every day or every other day. Our milk is picked up every other day. When the milk truck arrives, the driver takes a milk sample and checks the temperature of the milk. We also have a device that records the constant temperature of the milk. Then the milk sample will be sent to the lab to be tested for antibiotics as well as the overall quality of the milk.
So if they take a sample of the milk prior to being loaded on the truck to be taken to the plant, how does that do anything if it is not tested right then and there?
- Every truck is tested at the plant for antibiotics prior to entering. If the milk sample is free of antibiotics, the milk can be offloaded. If it contains traces of antibiotics, it gets dumped, and the farmer responsible eats the cost and pays a fine.+
It is incredibly important to us that we provide a safe and nutritious product for you. We take antibiotics very seriously on our farm.