• Farm management factors associated with the Bacillus cereus count in bulk tank milk

      O'Connell, Aine; Ruegg, P.L.; Gleeson, David E; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      The objective of this study was to determine the on-farm management factors that are associated with the Bacillus cereus count in raw bulk tank milk using a cross sectional study design. Bulk tank milk quality was monitored for B. cereus on 63 dairy farms between July and August 2012. Bulk tank milk samples corresponding with processor milk collection dates were taken over a two week period prior to the farm visit and tested for B. cereus. The four most recent samples taken prior to the on-farm visit were averaged and log transformed to give the outcome variable; mean log10 B. cereus cfu/mL. On-farm data collection included recording observations and providing a questionnaire on basic hygiene, management factors and cow hygiene scoring. All independent variables were analysed individually with the outcome variable using simple linear regression and one-way ANOVA; a multivariable regression model was subsequently developed. Only significant variables were retained in the final model (P < 0.05). The geometric mean B. cereus count for all milk samples was 40 cfu/mL. The start temperature of the cleaning solution wash, dry wiping teats prior to unit application, the feeding of silage and reusing the cleaning solution more than once were all unconditionally associated (P < 0.10) with the B. cereus count in bulk tank milk but did not enter the final multivariable model. B. cereus count was four times greater (201 cfu/mL) when cows had been housed compared to when they were on pasture (50 cfu/mL). The allocation of fresh grass every 12 h (62 cfu/mL) resulted in a decrease in B. cereus count (166cfu/mL every 24 h or greater). The testing of water for bacteriology was associated with an increase in B. cereus count. In conclusion, this study highlights specific management factors associated with the B. cereus count in bulk tank milk.
    • Milk quality and cheese diversification

      Sheehan, Jeremiah J. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Abolition of EU milk quotas in 2015 is projected to result in a 2.75 billion litre increase in Irish milk production by 2020. Although cheese offers vital market opportunities for this increased milk production, traditional cheese markets such as Cheddar, are predicted to grow more slowly than for other semi-soft and semi-hard cheese types. Innovation is now focused on achieving greater diversity in cheese types manufactured on Irish commercial plants and on development of new products with specific properties for target markets. This innovation is best illustrated by the current Teagasc – Irish Dairy Board collaboration. This review considers the relative influence of milk quality on diversification of the portfolio of cheeses manufactured from a seasonally-produced Irish milk supply with particular reference to milk microbial profile and to milk enzyme complement for the manufacture and ripening of non-Cheddar cheese varieties.
    • Understanding and using somatic cell counts to improve milk quality

      Ruegg, P.L.; Pantoja, J.C.F. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      The production of high quality milk is a requirement to sustain a profitable dairy industry and somatic cell count (SCC) values are routinely used to identify subclinical mastitis and define quality standards. The objective of this paper is to review the use of SCC as a diagnostic tool for subclinical mastitis in order to improve milk quality on dairy farms. Mastitis is detected based on inflammation subsequent to intramammary infection (IMI) by pathogenic organisms. Individual cow SCC values are used to detect the inflammation that results from IMI and are necessary to define the prevalence and incidence of subclinical IMI. A threshold of <200,000 cells/mL is considered to be of the most practical value used to define a mammary quarter as healthy. The development of IMI is the most significant factor that influences milk SCC and assessment of monthly values to determine newly and chronically increased SCC can be highly diagnostic for resolving problems with increased bulk tank SCC. Methods to reduce the development of new IMI are well known and adoption of best management practices for milking and herd management have consistently been shown to result in reductions in bulk tank SCC. Implementation of mastitis control programmes can be improved by focusing on three practical recommendations: 1) Farmers should work with their advisors to develop an annual udder health plan that includes clear goals for milk quality. 2) The annual udder health plan should emphasise prevention of new IMI. 3) Farmers must identify and manage chronically infected cows. Proactive management of IMI can be extremely effective in helping farmers produce milk that meets industry standards for milk quality.