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What is quality milk? It’s at least low-SCC

Progressive Dairy Editor Walt Cooley Published on 01 July 2019

Ninety-four percent of dairy farmers agree that low somatic cell and low bacteria counts are part of the definition of milk quality. That’s according to a recent online survey conducted by Progressive Dairy.

During March and April of this year, Progressive Dairy asked readers what their farms’ definition of quality milk was. The online poll gave respondents seven attributes of milk or how it is produced to choose as part of their definition of milk quality. Readers could choose from one to all of the attributes. More than 261 readers responded to the poll.

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Number of sttributes chosen by respondets to define milk quality

Nearly a quarter of the respondents (22.6%) choose to consider milk quality holistically and selected all of the listed attributes as part of their own definition. The top three attributes most likely to be selected to define milk quality were low somatic cell/low bacteria costs, free of antibiotic residues and above-average fat and protein content. Readers who selected only three attributes to define milk quality were the second-largest voting group behind the holistic-voting group, which selected all seven of the options.

My farm's definition of quality milk includes

“The results of the survey bear out the thoughts I have had for some time – the U.S. dairy farmer has a broader view of what milk quality really is,” says Dr. Michael Bolton, a Merck Animal Health veterinarian. “In our country, it is a given that the food is free of contaminants, of homogenous quality components, and has very low bacteria and somatic cell counts. As recent events have highlighted, it will be ever more important that the quality of life of the animal, the minimizing of the carbon ‘hoofprint’ and the plight of the farmworker also be included in this ‘quality’ metric.”

Only 14% of respondents defined milk quality narrowly, selecting just only one attribute. A super-majority of this singular-focus voting group also said low somatic cell and bacteria counts are the one thing that defines milk quality for them. end mark

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Walt Cooley
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