Monitoring "As-Fed" Milk
Last Friday I received from our in-house lab the bacteria culture results for pasteurized milk being fed to calves. Calves are housed in hutches, fed in pails, milk delivered from a Kubota fitted out with a transport tank, milk fed with a pump, hose and nozzle.
The raw milk and pasteurized milk samples had low bacteria counts (pasteurized milk 500 and 800 cfu/ml on two different days).
However, the "as-fed" milk samples (pasteurized milk went into a mobile feeding tank, was pumped out through a hose with a nozzle at the end) jumped from 100 cfu/ml to 20,700 and 11,500 cfu/ml on the two sample days. Each of these "as-fed" samples had coliform counts of 5,000 and greater. While there has not been an epidemic of scours among these calves it is worthy to note that these persistent high counts have compromised both feed conversion and immunity levels. Thus, there are lower growth rates than we should see given the current level of nutrition and the calves have been at higher risk for infections, especially pneumonia.
So far as anyone on the farm knows "nothing has changed" since the previous monitoring day when "as-fed" samples at the end of the feeding cycle were 1,200 cfu/ml.
"When was the last time anyone checked the temperature of the wash water for the feeding tank wash at the end of the wash cycle?" Well, no one could remember the last time this had been checked.
What volume of detergent is being added to the wash cycle? Answer: one cup. Is this the same cup that the milking equipment dealer provided or a different one? No one seems to know about the cup.
Is the feeding hose and nozzle still being placed in a full open position and positioned to pump into the feeding tank? [This washes the hose and nozzle rather than just pumping the wash water out through them at the end of the tank wash cycle.] Well, maybe this is being done some of the time but not all of the time - meaning? Probably infrequently since it is an extra step in the cleaning process and requires climbing on top of the Kubota to position the hose and nozzle.
When was the ball washer checked to see that some of the holes are not plugged? Last fall, probably in October. This might be a good time to re-check for plugged holes.
These are all little things but the impact of all of them clearly can be seen in the monitoring samples.
My recommendation was to check all this stuff, be sure everything is working well for 7 to 10 days, and collect milk samples again.