Antibiotics In Our Milk

What is one of the worst phone calls a dairyman could ever receive?

“Hey, Farmer Bright. You are going to have to buy that last milk truck tanker. Your sample tested positive for antibiotics. You polluted all of the other farmer’s milk on the entire load. You have to pay for it.”

No farmer ever wants to get that call.

Just like people, sometimes a cow gets sick and needs antibiotics to recover from the illness. What happens to that cow’s milk? This is what we do on our farm to prevent this worst case scenario.

milk
Bucket for catching discarded milk

When the cow comes into the barn her milk goes into a bucket. It does not go into the big tank that holds all of the “good” milk. How long will we continue catching her milk in the bucket? It depends. Different medicines take varying amount of time to leave a cow’s body.

This is never left to chance.

We always, always, always test a cow’s milk to see if the antibiotics have left her system. We have a test kit at the farm that we use to check the milk. A few drops of milk are put in the plastic vial. If the color of the agar changes to yellow her milk is good. However, as in the photo below, if the agar stays purple then her milk is still bad.

milk test kit
Antibiotic Testing Kit for Milk

We will retest this cow’s milk in two days to see if there is a change. Until then her milk is continued to be discarded at a loss to the farm.

Each time the truck comes to pick up milk from our farm the driver will take a sample of the milk. That milk is tested for quality and for antibiotics. More samples of the milk are taken at the processing plant, too. Every load must be verified as safe before it is mingled with other milk.

If a farmer ships milk that contains antibiotics he is responsible for paying for all of the milk he contaminated. In fact, it would be better and cheaper for him to discard all of his milk before it leaves his farm than let it be picked up and mixed in with all of the other farmers’ milk.

Through constant testing and retesting of the milk I can assure you as a dairy farmer that you are getting a safe product.

 

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