Sept. 30 2014 02:45 PM

    Safe, top quality milk is the goal of World Dairy Expo

    With over 3,000 head of cattle entered in the 2014 World Dairy Expo, the milking parlor will be a busy place this week for both cows and exhibitors. The new facility is computerized and is significantly larger than the previous parlor.

    I spoke with the two University of Wisconsin-Madison students who are the chairpersons of the Milk Barn, overseeing all milking activities for the duration of the show.

    Sierra Lurvey from southwest Wisconsin is a junior and this is her first year of a two-year commitment as a co-chairman. She explained how the milking protocol works. The first step is for each exhibitor to sign paperwork agreeing to abide by milk safety rules that all dairy producers follow at their own farms. World Dairy Expo has assigned a permit number to each exhibitor. Before the milking machine is attached to the cow, that specific permit number must be entered in the individual computer terminal at the stall.

    Following milkout, the milk from that cow is removed from the sample jar at the pipeline. A bulk tank sample is tested at each pick up. On the very rare occasion of a positive tested tank sample, the individual cow samples are then run to determine the source of the antibiotic contamination. If a positive test for antibiotics should result, that exhibitor is responsible for covering the loss of income from the bulk tank milk sales. During the entire 2013 show, no samples tested positive.

    Milk is sold to FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, but exhibitors do not receive any income from the sale of milk.

    A special milking stall is available for any cow that has been treated and has not yet passed the withdrawal period for the specified treatment. A very thorough list of medications that could be administered to dairy cows, along with the corresponding withdrawal times is readily available for every exhibitor to review.

    Serving her second year as Milk House chairman, junior Bethany Dado hails from northwest Wisconsin. A fellow classmate encouraged her to apply for the position in the spring of 2013. In addition to milking cows on her family's 425-cow registered Holstein dairy, she also worked on campus at the UW-Madison Dairy Cattle Center as a milker. She also spends time in the campus lab, working with milk culture testing. Bethany will be mentoring Sierra as she will be the chairman in 2015. However, with a new barn, "we are in the same boat with a new parlor," remarked Bethany.

    "The new parlor contains the same computer system, which is very self-explanatory," shared Dado. With improvements in the set-up, including a pipe transfer system, it reduces set-up time tremendously. The barn is intelligently designed for cattle movement and the treated stalls have proven to be efficient thus far."

    The milking facility is open from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then closed for wash up, and reopened at 4 p.m. and closed at 11:00 p.m. Stop and see the new facilities for yourself.

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    The author is the online media manager and is responsible for the website, webinars and social media. A graduate of Modesto Junior College and Fresno State, she was raised on a California dairy and frequently blogs on youth programs and consumer issues.