Milk is a natural nutrient comprising water, fat, proteins, lactose and mineral substances. The best natural resource containing essential amino acids is milk. Quality cow milk has quite an important place in human nutrition.
Quality cow milk is highly nutritive, while its economic value is associated with dry matter content. High dry matter content in milk will purport high nutritional value and high quantities of products to be obtained from the milk.
Milk is a nutrient that can easily and quickly decompose, and accordingly, should be stored under certain conditions. This quality of milk alone poses quite a big problem not only for individual farmers but also for the dairy industry, as a whole. Quality milk production starts at the operation and is susceptible to all conditions in the chain extending from storage, handling and processing to dispatch and shipping to the consumer markets.
The taste and smell of milk is a crucial matter among consumers. The taste of the milk is influenced by several factors including feeds fed to animals at the farm, resident conditions of the animal shelter, volatile fatty acid concentrations contained, bacterial contamination, oxidation as a result of contact with rust, copper and chlorine, and residual traces of spray insecticides and medicinal drugs.
Milk production at a farm ideally leaves no low bacterial and somatic cell counts, deposits, antibiotic or chemical residues, or creates odour-like smell or ends up in a composition and acidity beyond what is appraised to be normal, in milk bearing a high quality. The most essential quality criteria to be sought under operating conditions as the first ring which directly affects the quality of milk produced are the bacterial content, somatic cell count and antibiotic residues, as we will try to explain further.
Quality Cow Milk and Bacterial Content
Bacteria are organisms that reside in shelters and in milking equipment, are capable of growing pretty fast and uneasy to clean due to microscopic size than can not be detected by plain sight. Since bacteria inside the milk tend to reproduce and spoil the milk, low bacteria count is usually considered as the best indicator of quality cow milk.
The total bacterial count in the milk of a bulk milk tank should be below the level of 100,000 bacteria per ml. If there is more bacteria in the milk, this is oftentimes attributed to bad hygiene of the milking practice, imprecise cleaning of the milking equipment, or, cooling of milk in a longer time than expected and in accordance with the procedure, after milking. Apart from above, it has been indicated that improper cleaning of the milking equipment and site is the most common cause of high bacterial count in the milk.
Somatic Cell Count (SCC)
Intensification of SCC in Milk is the direct outcome of the infection of the udder (mastitis). The somatic cell count in regular milk retains a level below 200,000 cells per ml. If SCC is measured in excess of 200,000 cells per ml, this is considered abnormal and appraised as an indication of infection of the mammary gland.
Bulk tank milk somatic cell count (BTMSCC) is generally considered as an indicator of prevalence level of mastitis and gives an idea about the udder quarters infected with mastitis in the herd.
Many countries like the EU member states, New Zealand and Australia have adopted an upper threshold of 400,000 cells per ml. The Turkish Codex Alimentarius sets the upper threshold to 500,000 cells per ml.
Antibiotic Residue In Milk
Presence of antibiotic residues in foodstuffs of animal origin is a paramount concern that threatens community health. Especially running tests to check and determine presence of penicillin and other like antibiotics in milk will be a major breakthrough in terms of both dairy and breeding practice. It is indicated that findings of antibiotic residues in milk are almost always accidental.
In order to avoid antibiotic residues, the breeders should know the treated animal well. Since residual antibiotics is a high concern for public health, samples from tanked milk should periodically be tested to reveal, if any, traces thereof in product concentrations and safeguards be put in place to prevent marketing of milk containing antibiotics.