Friday, July 8, 2011

Milk Testing...

Being aware of the milk quality of each cow, and knowing just how much each cow is milking is an important part of dairying...

Every so often, we take individual samples of each cow's milk and send it to the DHIA (Dairy Herd Improvement Association) lab for testing.  The test tells us the percentage of butterfat and protein in the milk in addition to the somatic cell count of each cow.  These components play a part in determining our milk price each month.  High butterfat and protein raise the price per cwt (hundred pounds of milk) and low somatic cell counts earn us a bonus. 

We know how the herd is doing on average, but this gives us information on each cow individually.

In addition to analyzing the quality of the milk, testing also tells us how many pounds each cow is milking.  We hook this meter up to our milkers.  The milk is measured and recorded for our personal records.  We turn the gray valve at the bottom of the meter and fill a sample bottle to send for testing...

Each sample bottle has a preservative pill in it to keep the milk fresh until it is tested.  It turns the milk orange..if you look closely, you can see the color change.  Each bottle is labeled with the cow's name or number...

After we're finished milking, the meters are washed along with the milkers and the pipeline...

We got the test results back in the mail today.  Our milk quality/somatic cell counts were excellent!  We wish, however,  that our butterfat and protein would be higher.  I guess we'll have to give some of those cows a pep talk!


  1. A lot goes into dairy farming thats for sure ! A wonderful interesting post. Our live stock was for our own use when I was a kid on our farm no milkers just meat cattle ! We also had laying hens mmm fresh eggs, sheep, Horses to ride , ducks, geese , rabbits, cats and dogs more of a hobby farm with the mix of animals . We ate our own veggies and did our own canning it was an experiance I think every kid should have !

  2. It's amazing how scientific milking is anymore. That's about as far from as my milking the goats for myself as you can get. Very interesting to see.

  3. My husband was a milk tester when we lived in WV. Some mornings he was up at 2:30 am to get to different farms.

  4. Alica Thank you I always wondered how things work on the testing side of dairy. I do not know that much about milking but I do love milk. Thanks for clearing my questions up. B

  5. Fascinating! So much goes into it-that most of us dont' have a clue about : )

  6. well if you can find somebody who can give your girls a pep talk can you please make sure they come over here too! our ladies can use some talking to too! haha

    Glad your counts were good!


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