“Milk quality has nothing to do with where you milk cows,” says David Sumrall, of Dairy Production Systems in High Springs, Fla. Sumrall addressed his remarks to the NMC (formerly the National Mastitis Council) annual meeting last month in Albuquerque, N.M.

“As a guy who has managed cows and people in Idaho, Colorado, Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and Maryland, I can tell you it has everything to do with commitment,” he adds. “If quality is important to you, it is achievable anywhere.”

To that end, Sumrall offers the following points to produce quality milk. “We believe that premier milk quality is simple and is based on these basic concepts from which we will not stray,” he insists.

These include:

  • It is the role of management to set an example for the organization to follow. If it is truly important to ownership and management as evidenced by more than empty talk, it will be treated as “important” by rank-and-file employees within the organization. Fundamental keys to superior milk quality are discipline, compliance and accountability that start at the top and flow down through the organization.
  • Somatic cell counts are a key indicator of animal health and milk quality. SCCs are a direct indication of the prevalence of infection within a cow or a herd and nothing else.
  • The primary key to milk quality is sanitation in every area of the farm. Premier milk quality comes only when every department on the farm is working in unison with that goal in mind.
  • Cows must have a clean, dry place to live that provides protection from extreme temperatures and conditions that are prevalent in the area in which the dairy operates.
  • Time away from feed and resting areas must be minimal. As a result, milking routines should be efficient and crisp, yet focused on quality first. Parlor through-put is important, but should not take priority over milk quality and udder health.