Dairies are closing at a rate of eight to fourteen percent per year and have been for the last four years. In the media, a day does not go by where there isn’t a story about another dairy closing. Last month, an auction notice was posted for a five hundred cow dairy farm going under. With an average butterfat of 3.7 and somatic cell counts of 185,000, the reason for closure wasn’t due to the quality of the milk. These numbers are excellent and in a normal dairy market, this farm should have been able to easily sustain itself.
The question becomes: Even in this difficult market, why weren’t they able to sustain themselves?
There are always external reasons like divorce, death, or bad investments that can lead to the death of a farm. What if the problem was not the quality of the milk produced, but how the sample was taken?
I recently had an opportunity to speak with the owner of a 700-cow dairy who had lost his quality premium for the month of February. While reviewing the quality totals, I noticed six distinct spikes in his bacteria counts that were obviously outliers. These outliers were not consistent over a few days, were not associated with any farm related event, and his components remained consistent. The farmer is currently milking into a 6000 lbs. bulk tank and the sample is taken using traditional methods.
The traditional method of sampling, which has been in practice for over 100 years, has 17 points where human error can be introduced. Based on these human errors and through no fault of the farmer, this producer’s quality premium was lowered, and he lost $3,500 for that month. Further, this was the second time in the last year that this had happened. This is a substantial blow to a 700-cow dairy and to the morale of the farmer. On top of all the other stressors the farmer faces, an inaccurate sample should be the last thing he has to worry about, especially when there are alternative methods available to remove human error.
Read about the easy and accurate QualiTru System.