Meet 1061, one of my favorite cows on the farm and currently Employee of the Month. Employee of the Month? How does a cow get such a title? Once a month, the milk tester visits our farm and tests the milk. Milk weights are taken and components such as fat and protein are measured. The bacteria count in the milk is also measured at this time. Each individual cow is tested and then applied to the farm average. This month, 1061 averaged 183 lbs of milk per day! It is pretty impressive and now, she reigns as the highest producing cow on the farm. AKA, Employee of the Month!
Here is a breakdown of what the milk is tested for and our farm stats this month:
Somatic Cell Count (SCC)
Somatic Cell Count is an indicator of milk quality. A majority of somatic cells are white blood cells and become present in increasing numbers as an immune response to mastitis (infection of the udder). Basically, SCC is a bacteria count and somewhat defines how clean the cows and their environment are. Dairy farms are financially rewarded for a low SCC and penalized for a high SCC. The industry standard for SCC is under 400,000; the lower, the better. This month our SCC herd average was 139,000.
Protein and Fat
Most milk marketing orders in the U.S. now employ a component pricing system that pays producers on the basis of milk fat, protein, and other dairy solids. Milk component percentages are also indicators of changes/problems in feeding and health in the herd. Production of milk fat and protein varies on each farm and is dependent upon breed. Holsteins have the lowest fat and protein content, while Jersey and Guernsey breeds have the highest. Holsteins average 3.65% fat and 3.06% protein. This month our herd averaged 3.7% fat and 3.01% protein; not too shabby!
Rolling Herd Average
Rolling Herd Average represents the average amount of milk produced by the average cow in the herd for the last 365 days. Pounds of milk is an indicator of cow health and nutrition. If a cow is milking a lot, it usually indicates that she is happy, healthy and eating well. The average cow in Wisconsin produces 21,436 pounds of milk in a year; that converts to 2, 493 gallons! The rolling herd average on our dairy was 29,563 this month.
The price we receive for our milk is based not just on quantity, but also quality. Good results from a monthly milk test is a reflection of our cows, their nutrition, facilities and employees. We work hard to keep our cows happy and healthy, and in return they produce quality milk. The happier a cow is, the more milk she will produce so we will continue to provide our cows with the best care and nutrition!