Why Should My Dairy Invest in Milk Testing?

Not only does it take a lot of work to make a glass of milk, but there are numerous requirements for that glass of milk to make it to a consumer. Much like how consumers will enjoy a glass of milk in many ways, Dairy One offers many testing options for a single milk sample to dairy farms.

The investment in milk testing comes with various positive gains for a dairy farm. From profit savings to organized records, receiving a visit once a month from a Dairy Herd Information (DHI) Field Technician has numerous benefits for farms.

Dairy One began milk testing back in the 1940s, and since then there have been many developments. In the earlier history of the New York DHI Cooperative, the original organization that became Dairy One, many milk samples were tested by the Technicians themselves at their homes. Today, all milk samples are sent to the Milk Laboratory located in Ithaca, NY. This lab goes through annual certifications and quality checks to ensure the test results are accurate and follow industry regulations.

Technicians have also changed how they manage test days. Where once it was mainly done using just paperwork, today it is a mix of paperwork and technology. Many dairies use herd management software where Technicians can update a cow’s history and upload data from test day. Instead of waiting until they arrive on the farm, Technicians can access and update information the night before test day which saves time for both them and the farm. Since many farms are growing in size, Technicians are often relying on other team members to join them on test day. Teams of Technicians are joining together on the dairy to collect and record milk samples. Depending on the number of cows, Technicians may even rotate out during test day, which can last the entire day.

Working side by side with the herd manager or owner, Technicians can also keep records up to date. For farms that run breeding programs, this data is especially important when it comes to the success of their operation. Missing information or incomplete records can cause a canceled sale which leads to a loss in profit. Additionally breed associations use this information for their records as well, which benefits many other individuals in the dairy industry. When Technicians visit a farm regularly, they can work with the dairy to ensure records are up to date and organized to prevent any of these potential issues.

Once a sample is delivered to the Milk Laboratory, there are many test options available for it. Most dairies are testing samples for milk component levels like fat, protein, and butterfat. Instead of individuals pipetting milk samples, many of these tests are now completed using instruments that analyze the sample and provide reports on component levels.

Aside from milk components, there are many health diagnosis tests available today to help with overall herd health. A milk urea nitrogen test helps dairies determine if their feeding program is running effectively. Blood or milk pregnancy testing helps farms determine quickly if a cow is pregnant. Screening for Mycoplasma bovis is a final health check run from a milk sample. At this time, this type of mastitis is uncurable and can spread easily through a herd. Identifying diseased cows early on can prevent the infection of the entire herd.

In closing, here is why your dairy should invest in milk testing:

  • Stay on top of cow records
  • Ensure milk quality to receive premiums from cooperatives
  • Receive health diagnosis screening to keep a herd healthy

For more information on how to start testing with Dairy One, contact [email protected].