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Dairy Focus: Got Milk Quality?

NDSU Extension Service dairy specialist J.W. Schroeder NDSU Extension Service dairy specialist J.W. Schroeder
Clean cows, clean barns and clean workers are vital on dairy farms.

By J.W. Schroeder, Dairy Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

As of Jan. 1, 2011, U.S. dairy producers are bound by European Union standards for milk production.

However, the interpretation of those guidelines has created some confusion.

Milk quality is different than milk safety. All milk for human consumption must meet the minimum safety standards of quality with no antibiotic or chemical residues. However, with the expansive distribution areas of today’s large food distributors, longer shelf life has become an important issue. Furthermore, public demand for improvement in milk quality beyond current milk safety standards is on the upswing.

The good news is records verify that today’s dairy farms are producing a high-quality product every year. But they still have a ways to go to meet the new standards.

Mastitis is not a simple problem. In fact, it is the most common disease among all lactating animals around the world. The epidemiology of mastitis is such that both management and the environment are involved. This means not only using good practices, but consistently and completely implementing best management practices. That means clean cows, clean barns and clean workers.

When we look at the characteristics of those farms that do the very best job, several practices consistently emerge. They include:

  • Cleaner free stalls
  • Use of more bedding
  • Cleaner drinking cups
  • Removal of udder hair
  • Dry cows checked for mastitis daily
  • Cleaner calving pens
  • Fresh cows’ milk kept out of the bulk tank longer
  • More consistent and longer use of teat dipping
  • More consistent and longer use of dry-cow therapy
  • Clinical cases treated for longer duration
  • Nutrient supplements more apt to be provided

This is just one of the timely topics to be discussed at this year’s Dairy Cow College. Dairy producers and their service providers also will have a chance during the program to hear about the care and treatment of another common ailment, lameness.

Jan Shearer, Extension veterinarian at Iowa State University, will be on hand to talk about lameness. He is the author of several references on the subject. Shearer has a worldwide reputation in the dairy industry on animal care as well, and he also will be discussing animal welfare, a topic of high interest to all dairy owners and managers.

Even if you are not a dairy producer but are interested in livestock, we welcome you to these public meetings. This year’s Dairy Cow College will be held at:

  • Feb. 1 - Linton, KEM Electric Cooperative, 107 S. Broadway
  • Feb. 2 - New Salem, Youth Building, Morton County Fairgrounds
  • Feb. 3 - Dickinson, Grand Dakota Lodge and Conference Center, 501 Elks Drive
  • Feb. 4 - Towner, Ranch House, 217 Main St. S.
  • Feb. 5 - Valley City, AgCountry Farm Credit Services, 220 Wintershow Road

All of the meetings will run from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Got milk quality? You bet! And North Dakota dairy producers have been improving that quality for many years. Tomorrow’s dairy products will be tastier yet.

NDSU Agriculture Communication - Jan. 21, 2011

Source:J.W. Schroeder, (701) 231-7663,
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391,
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