Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Milk Room


It was a bright and sunny day here today. The wind is brisk now, and the snow from last night is blowing sideways out in the yard. We had a high of about 1 degree here today, but with the windchill, I think it was somewhere around -20. It's good the animals are sheltered down at the barn so aren't getting the full blast from the direction of the prevailing winds.

Slowly but steadily I've been working on the Milk Room as we call it. It's the bathroom on the main level of the house that will be used for milk bottling and storing. I will be able to move all the dish washing items from down here, up there and free up some space here. It will be much easier for me to keep things clean when they're in a separate room.

This afternoon I put in just a few of the tiles you see in the picture above. They are self sticking, vinyl, grout-line tiles from Menards. The temperature is colder than normal outside, so the temperature inside the room was below the manufaturer's recommended installation temperature. I'm looking for a little heater to put in the room just until we get the duct from downstairs installed. The walls are all done now and the floor is next on my list for that room.

I have a 31 inch stainless steel wash tank to install when the room is done that will be for all the washup after milking. Also, a couple of refrigerators to move in there, a cream separator, butter churn, lots of bottles and assorted cleaners, a cabinet, milk scale and probably a few other odds and ends as well.

I wouldn't take the time and effort to keep the milk buckets as clean as I do, if I were not that I am milking for other people.

I recently got the results from a series of tests I had done on a couple of milk samples that I sent to DQCI Services near Minneapolis, MN. I am very glad to say that the bacteria levels in our milk, are quite low. Meaning that it has an extra-long shelf life.

According to the "Raw Milk Production Handbook," the Standard Plate Count test (measures the overall bacteria levels within the milking equipment) should be less than 10,000/mL. Our milk was less than 2,500/mL.

Another test was Preliminary Incubation, or another perspective on the cleanliness of how the milk is handled. Should be less than 50,000/mL. Ours was 2000/mL.

The measure of the somatic cells in our milk was 140,000/mL. Raw milk producers like to see it below 300,000 but the commercial guys are okay at 750,000. The higher the SCC count is, the more likely it is that there is infection in the udder.

Those tests above, give me an idea of how well I have been cleaning the buckets, and how long the milk will last. I had DQCI do five tests altogether, the last two were both good and they were coliform count, and Ecoli.

Most dairies have each load of milk that they ship out, tested for different bacteria levels, and they get higher price for milk that has a somatic cell count of less than a certain amount. The government sets the standards, and the prices that the farmers get for their milk. I will be sending out samples for testing monthly, so my customers can trust that their milk is as cleanly produced.

Since I do not sell milk, I'm not under government inspection or regulation. This puts a great responsibility on me, to keep the milk perfectly clean.

It is much more motivating to have healthy cows that produce healthy milk when you talk to the person who needs real milk for whatever reason. A large bulk-milk dairy is worried about milk production and dollars rather than clean and healthy milk.
Have a good rest-of-2010!


Anonymous said...


I am so happy for you!

Many blessings!


Anonymous said...


Very interesting reports on the milk.
You sure are to be commended for the extra effort it takes to produce a better product. In the long run you may find it easier to do it right rather than fight the consequences of poor care.

Proud of you all out there,

Gp B