There’s no disputing that on-farm pasteurizers are a valuable tool when feeding waste milk to calves. However, what many people don’t realize is that if you fail to address the critical-control points involved, you take significant risks with your calves’ health, explains Bob James, extension dairy specialist at Virginia Tech.
James outlined his keys to success for on-farm pasteurization of waste milk at the Professional Dairy Heifer Growers Association conference this spring. Here’s what he advised:
- Treat waste milk with as much care as marketable milk.
- When flushing lines, guard against too much water being added to the milk.
- Refrigerate waste milk immediately, or pasteurize within two hours of harvest.
- Clean storage and transfer tanks used for waste milk with the same diligence given equipment used for marketable milk.
- Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning the pasteurization equipment.
- Assure that you have enough hot water for both operation of the pasteurizer and cleaning it immediately after use.
- Flush equipment with clean water after using cleaning chemicals.
- Use a cleaning temperature that is 10 degrees F warmer than the pasteurization temperature.
- Monitor pasteurizer operation at least monthly ― preferably weekly though milk testing ― and check the milk’s temperature with an accurate hand-held thermometer. Use a standard plate count of < 20,000 /ml of milk or a negative alkaline phosphatase test of <500units/ml as your goal.
- Develop a strategy that you can use when waste milk is in short supply.