The acknowledgment is a reflection of a commitment to produce top-quality milk at the Penn Vet dairy
[August 31, 2011; Kennett Square, PA] – In early 2011, the Marshak Dairy earned acknowledgment for the quality of its milk. The Dairy, part of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, is located on Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center campus in Kennett Square, PA, and produces more than a half-million pounds of milk annually from 180 Holstein cows. The quality of the Dairy’s milk is earning it Premium Quality status and added dollars for every hundred-weight of milk it produces. The recognition comes from Land O’Lakes, the co-op to which the dairy belongs.
Every time that any milk produced across the country it is picked up for processing and distribution, screened and given three scores: a bacteria, preliminary incubation and white blood cell count known as SCC. The lower the numbers, the higher the pay for each hundred weight of milk. In 2010, a quality premium score for 12 months netted the dairy an additional bonus.
“This recognition is very gratifying for us,” says Jon Garber, VMD, lecturer, member of New Bolton Center’s Field Service and coordinator of the Dairy. “We have really focused our efforts at continual improvements in the farm’s milk quality, and now we are seeing the results. This award is a reflection of our high herd health status.”
One of the ways that the Dairy has managed to improve the health of its cows is by controlling new cases of mastitis, an infection of the mammary gland. Use of a tripartite culture plate to test for mastitis pathogens gives preliminary results in 12-24 hours.
“Without it,” explains Dr. Garber, “we would have to ship samples to a lab, and the lag time would be costly.” If there are indications of mastitis, protocols for treatment are in order. A Mastitis Treatment Protocol tree makes clear the prescribed treatments for types and severity of bacteria. “We’ve educated many of our Field Service clients about the value of the tripartite culture plate and the Mastitis Treatment Protocol tree, and now they are benefiting from them as well,” says Dr. Garber.
In addition to the culture and treatment protocol, a Milking Management Program has been established, and is stringently followed on the floor of the milking parlor. This program involves dry-wiping the udders, dipping them into an iodine-based solution, forestripping (manually expelling a few streams of milk) with visual screening of the milk, and dry wiping again.
“It’s a holistic approach,” says Rob Heslep, manager of the Dairy. “Yes, we’re monitoring the milk, but through this process we’re monitoring the system as well.”
An annual meeting is held at the Dairy to evaluate the system. Milkers, Field Service representatives and dairy management personnel get together to assess the system and investigate ways to continue the positive progress.
“There’s always something to tweak, small ways that we can improve our production and the quality of our product,” says Dr. Garber.
The Marshak Dairy serves as a resource for clients of New Bolton Center’s Boucher Field Service, local producers, veterinary students and technician students.