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:

  1. Treat waste milk with as much care as marketable milk.
  2. When flushing lines, guard against too much water being added to the milk.
  3. Refrigerate waste milk immediately, or pasteurize within two hours of harvest.
  4. Clean storage and transfer tanks used for waste milk with the same diligence given equipment used for marketable milk.
  5. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning the pasteurization equipment.
  6. Assure that you have enough hot water for both operation of the pasteurizer and cleaning it immediately after use.
  7. Flush equipment with clean water after using cleaning chemicals.
  8. Use a cleaning temperature that is 10 degrees F warmer than the pasteurization temperature.
  9. 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.
  10. Develop a strategy that you can use when waste milk is in short supply.