Tuesday, July 23, 2013

That Test from California

It's raining again. They predicted widely scattered showers for the week. It was raining when I got up yesterday, cleared off for a few hours, at least allowing the boss to get a load of hay chopped for feed.

Then the rain returned. Right now it is a torrent, with flood warnings and watches all over the place. 

We worked until after nine last night trying to track down a probable case of sub-clinical mastitis, somewhere among the cows. 

Each time milk is picked up a sample is taken by the truck driver, which is analyzed for a number of things, including butterfat, protein, milk urea nitrogen, solid components other than the first two, bacteria, somatic cells, the dreaded PI (check that one out) LP, which is some organic thing that we don't have to deal with, at least yet. 

And then it is cryoscoped to make sure we don't water it down, tested for antibiotics, sediment, and temperature. These results are posted on a website, which I check daily.

Except when I'm at camp. The very day after we left, a high somatic cell count was posted. Nobody saw it....

Normally we run exceptionally low somatic cell counts, usually below 100,000, which is low indeed. However, some cow, or some group of cows, spiked high last week, when the watcher-over-such-stuff was fishing and swimming.

Thus last night we took out the California Mastitis Test (or CMT) kit and went through the herd, pulling samples on all but three or four cows, looking for the culprit or culprits.

Of course, as is way too often the case, no particular cow stood out as a real problem. The worst by our standards....the test is pretty subjective...was an older cow, Evie, who has been milking over a year, is probably not bred back, and her milk didn't look quite like we thought it should.

So, she was put on the list to sell and we will just stop milking her, so her milk doesn't go in the tank. She's pretty near dry anyhow. A couple of others were put on a list to watch, but I sure would have liked to have some kind of more definitive result of all those extra hours of work.

Meanwhile, SCC doesn't really mean a whole lot in the actual, meaningful, quality of the milk. It is just one of many measurements used by processors to keep milk the way they want it for making cheese and such.

I was really interested to read the Cornell opinion piece linked above on PI. It NEVER made sense to me to hold milk at 55 degrees for 18 hours and then test it for bacteria. If you do the same with almost any perishable commodity, you are going to see some growth.

Turns out university experts agree with me. Whadda ya know...... Meanwhile, our premiums for quality milk for the month went out the window with that set of high counts. Fun, fun, fun. We will see in a couple of days if pulling Evie out fixed the problem. Otherwise, it's back to the drawing board, or in this case, back to the CMT kit.


thepoodleanddogblog said...

I hope it all works out without Evie in the mix.

It's nice when university experts actually agree with common sense.

CDH said...

Common sense always precedes book sense. I hope you find the "bad" cow. Mastitis is not pleasant. We cull bad bagged cows, their babies usually get sick and then you have a bottle baby. Love love love that last pic. Absolutely beautiful!

Woodswalker said...

Sigh! I hope the memories of a week at the lake help you through this crisis. Love your photos and vivid accounts.

Cathy said...

Just 'wow'.
We consumers just have no idea the awesome work involved in producing milk.
Ditto to everyone above.

Cathy said...

PS. That toddler is adorable :)

threecollie said...

Jan, frustration abounds! A different cow that was merely mildly suspicious on the CMT went clinical today. not sure how we are going to handle her, other than withholding her milk

CDH, found one this AM, which wasn't showing much the other day. We'll see what happens with her out of the tank

WW, thanks! I love the lake....as you may have guessed

Cathy, thanks....she is my honorary grandbaby and adored by all. lol