Dear Dr Othieno, I ventured into dairy farming recently, things have been good until a few days ago when my clients started complaining about the quality of my milk. I haven’t made any major changes in the farm, the diet for the cows is the same butI have a new farmhand, what could be the cause of this problem?
Concerned farmer Kakamega.
Dear concerned farmer,
Milk is not only a perishable commodity but also aensorive in nature. It is for thos reason that farmers need to be informed on how to handle milk to ensure it reaches the market when it is still fresh and in its original smell and taste. Milk has the ability to pick any smell in its environment which then alters its original smell.
Milk tends to promote bacterial groth which is the main reason why it spoils fast if not taken care of well.
Here are a few things you should be keen on.
Milk is a sterile product at its point if expression from the udder of a healthy animal. This means production of clean milk is a process. Clean milk, should, therefore, have no foreign bodies be of the right density, free from antibiotics, bacteria and have the right pH. Clean milk production starts with feeding the animal on the right feeds and keeping the animal healthy. Keeping the evironment clean and the person milking too should be clean.
Of flavours and bad smell
Off flavourd or unclean milk resulrs from internal or external sources. Internal sources include type of feed given to the animal. Feeds with strong flavours will transfer the smell to milk. Sick animals too will produce already contaminated milk. Cows suffering from mastitis, for example, will produce milk with blood clots and with lots of bacteria. Cows suffering from ketosis will produce milk that has a cowy flavour.
If milk is left open in an environment where there are other foods with strong smells, the milk will easily pick the smells. Onions and silage are good examples. This also applies to other farm chemicals like pesticides which many farmers store near miking pens. Milk will also pick strong odours from the person milking.
What to do
You must always work with your veterinay doctor to ensure your animals are healthy at all times and fed well. The animal being milked must also be kept in a clean environment. Farm chemicals with a strong smell must be kept away from where milking id done and milk should be kept far from foods with strong smells. Always keep the milk container covered. Milk should be milked directly into and transported in aluminium containers. Also, the person milking should be of high hygiene standards.
Clean the udder before milking
Before milking, always ensure the udder is clean. There are also cases where farmers adulterate the milk knowingly by adding water or sweetener to mask whatever flavour is in the milk. This is a malpracise that can result in the rejection of your milk. Remember most people get their protein supply from milk and milk products and therefore clean milk is a matter of public health concern.