Recipes - Milk
We live in a new world where whoever can pay the most for advertising can directly influence public opinion. Sometimes this new world of mass marketing can be beneficial and improve human health, but other times the messaging is misleading.
Enter the debate over dairy milk vs almond ‘milk’.
First off, almond milk is a misleading name. A better description is filtered water that is clouded with a few almonds that have been squished up. Almonds are extremely nutritious, being packed with anti-oxidants, and Vitamin E. National academic institutes have linked almonds to the lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol, and in increase in bone health and stabilization of blood sugar. These benefits sound incredible, until you realize that there are only roughly two almonds in one cup of almond milk.
Set aside the debate over calling almond milk, ‘milk,’ which is raging in Washington. Is almond milk really the better choice when compared to dairy milk? If you are a fully-grown adult with dietary restrictions or just trying to add specific benefits to your existing nutritional needs, then yes. If we are talking about children, then the answer is a solid no
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) adamantly encourages parents to give children under the age of two years whole Vitamin D fortified dairy milk and then switch to 2% dairy milk until age seven. The reasons are brain development and nutrition. Naturally occurring healthy fats in dairy milk are instrumental in creating myelin sheaths around the cells of the nervous system. The human brain makes up most of the nervous system. Thus, giving children dairy milk equates with healthy brain development. Fortified almond milk may be a decent substitute, if it is sugar free and fortified with calcium. If a child is allergic to dairy, then it is a great replacement, but parents need to account for the lack of some of the nutritional benefits found in dairy milk. Those nutritional benefits include, a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, and the perfect balance of protein and healthy fats.
There are many dissenting opinions being published in the media, but when deciding we suggest people do a simple side by side comparison for the age bracket of the consumer. The labels may not provide this information, so follow the recommendations of your pediatrician and not what is perpetuated by the media.
Who knew so much came down to clean water for quality milk?
The Internet is riddled with tips and tricks to control mastitis and improve the quality of milk through feed rations, but what is generally overlooked is the essential need for clean, accessible water.
Experts focus on so many factors such as bedding, milking practices, proper sanitation of the milk lines, and the perfect nutritional balance, but the base of all milk is water. Each cow drinks 30-50 gallons of water per day, which accounts for 87% of the makeup of milk.
When thirsty, cows will drink whatever water is available to them. If the available water is contaminated with bacteria or the dissolved solids in the water are not evaluated, producers may be creating avoidable issues for themselves.
What can be done?
The first step for producers is to assess the quality of their herds’ drinking water. A complete analysis of chemicals and microbiologic contaminants is essential, as the cow’s tolerance and performance are directly linked. Water contaminated with heavy metals like Ferrous Iron (Fe) will cause scouring, loss of body weight, and lower milk production by decreasing the cow’s ability to digest nutrients from the feed. Bacterial contamination in the water will increase the chances of cows becoming infected with a mastitis infection, which will lead to increased costs for treatment and loss of production. Mastitis accounts for over $550 million in lost production each year, so using simple means of avoidance are wise overall investments.
The second step for producers is to create an environment that is easily accessible. For example, troughs need to be set outside the exit of the milking parlor so cows can drink after being milked. They just expelled up to 60 pounds of milk; no wonder the ladies are thirsty. Water troughs in the pens need to be placed at the ends of the bedding lines and every 100 feet, so a cow never needs to walk more than 50 feet to get water. The troughs need to be a minimum of three inches deep and should allow for at least 2.5 linear inches per cow. The troughs should be physically cleaned at a minimum of every other day to prevent organic build up and algae growth.
It is simple. Fresh, sanitary water is the backbone on which all other efforts for quality milk rest.
With clean accessible water, the nutritionist can create a feed ration and a program that will increase volume and components and decrease overall mastitis infections throughout a herd.
This summer has brought many personal and professional changes. Following a curiosity to develop the international arm of our business, I jumped all in, moved over the pond and opened new location in Stavanger, Norway. We have customers in over thirty countries, however, until now we have not dedicated training or support for our international partners.
Setting up in Norway has been an adjustment with many positive surprises. Simple ones from having a wide selection of brunost (dessert-like cheese made from whey) for breakfast, never-ending sunsets to running through security in five minutes to train our new Italian distributor. The best one yet is passing a dairy farm every morning, who can’t love that?
While there are many great transitions, it can’t go without saying that there are challenges. Communication at times has been slow opening a new office in the summer. July is a typical month-long holiday for Northern Europe and leading into August when the rest of Europe slows down. However, it has opened more time to set up calls with our other regional partners.
I am grateful for the opportunity to be in the middle of success stories from different countries with plants and farms solving sampling challenges. My focus in the upcoming months is to highlight those stories and improve food safety or payment integrity for farmers. Reach out if you have any questions or just have an equal fascination about sampling and the impact it can have for dairy.
Farmers dedicate significant time to keeping cows dry, udders healthy, and teats clean. On the surface, pre and post dips are mechanisms to remove bacteria and organic contaminants before the milking cluster is applied. A properly executed pre and post-dip will help protect the cow from a mastitis infection from bacteria like S. aureus. When proper technique is consistent for every cow that enters the parlor, the overall herd somatic cell counts will go down, and the farm’s milk quality will go up. Proper hygiene is more than just a task in the parlor – proper milking procedures could save lives.
What is not fully understood is that while S. aureus has a detrimental effect on the health of cows and productivity, the presence of another bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes, can lead to deadly consequences. Listeria is naturally occurring on farms. In fact, dairy farms act as reservoirs for Listeria. It is frequently found in bulk tank milk samples and the feces of clinically healthy cows.
Listeria monocytogenes is a Gram-positive non-spore-forming bacterium which has an amazing ability to survive in harsh environments. Listeria can grow in temperature ranges of 1-45O Celsius, pH of 4.5-9.6, 25.5% salt concentration, with or without available oxygen. To make matters worse, it is the causal agent of Listeriosis which has a 20-30% mortality rate if consumed by humans. The mortality rate can reach as high as 70% of it goes untreated and infiltrates the nervous system.
Given the real possibility of health complications and even death from consumption of Listeria, the importance of mitigation through proper teat hygiene cannot be overstated. The proper technique for a pre and post-dip is as follows:
1: With a single use towel, wipe away all visual organic matter from the teat.
2. Teats must be entirely submerged in solution or covered with sanitizing foam.
3. Teats must remain in contact with the solution for at least 30 seconds or as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
4. Teats must be thoroughly wiped to remove the solution. For best cleaning action, teats should be wiped in a circular motion with attention paid to teat ends. Wiping stimulates milk let-down and reduces the risk of contamination up, into the teat end.
Proper Post Dip:
1. Disinfectant must be applied as soon as possible after removing the milking cluster.
2. Disinfectant must coat the entire surface that was covered by the teat liner.
3. Do not wipe disinfectant. In frigid weather, remove the excess sanitizer from the end of the teat to prevent freezing.
4. Products should be antimicrobial to eliminate bacteria with a skin conditioner since sores can lead to infection.
To verify teat sanitation and overall milking procedure hygiene, aseptically pen/string sample every group into a sterile collection unit and send the samples to a verified lab. Request species-specific results for staph, strep, coliforms, and pathogens like Listeria. A structured sampling program is the key to verifying on-farm milking procedures are being performed correctly and will identify possible issues before the herd is contaminated. When used as part of a Mastitis Control Plan, farmers can also proactively impact their quality premium and ensure they get paid top dollar for the milk they produce.
Proper hygiene is more than just a task in the parlor. It can literally save lives. Train your staff with the knowledge they need to mitigate this possibility.
According to the USDA mastitis accounts for $400-$500 million, or $23 per cow, in lost production and revenue for dairy farmers nationwide. Further, mastitis can shorten the life expectancy of the cow and has negative effects on milk production after the cow goes through treatment. There is also evidence of a link between mastitis and biofilm formation on the surfaces of milking and processing systems. These biofilms can lead to further losses in quality premiums. This loss of revenue prevents the dairy farmer from putting capital back into operations.
One proven solution to reduce mastitis.
Implementation of a Mastitis Control Plan with special emphasis on mastitis treatment and routine pen/string sampling. Through general management and organization of the on-farm duties like bedding management and milking parlor procedures, a farm can make significant strides in controlling the spread of mastitis-causing bacteria like S. aureus and S. uberis. Animal management duties that emphasize an effective pre and post-dip process will also add value by stopping the spread of bacteria. How does the herd manager detect mastitis in the sub-clinical phase?
When the infected quarter is red, inflamed, and painful to the touch the mastitis is already in a clinical phase. This means immediate quarantine from the herd and a course of antibiotics. One approach to detecting mastitis before it reaches the clinical phase is weekly to bi-weekly pen/string sampling.
By finding mastitis when it is at sub-clinical levels, the production losses and cost of medications are lower. This translates to the cow being in the hospital group for a shorter duration, and back in the parlor creating revenue sooner. A routine pen sampling schedule reduces the operating costs of testing every cow when somatic cell counts in the bulk tank begin to rise. Early identification and management will lead to overall higher revenue and profits which dairy farmers desperately need in today’s market.