The heat-resisting bacteria
Dairy farmers are very familiar with TBC and SCC levels in their milk supply. They know that if they go under a certain standard they will be penalised. All milk processors in Ireland penalise or reward farmers for their TBC and SCC levels. It is an accepted fact that elevated levels of both causes difficulty in the manufacture of product.
In recent years, another group of bacteria has come under the radar screen and some milk processors will now penalise elevated levels of this bacteria. These bacteria are called thermoduric bacteria.
Why are thermoduric bacteria a problem? Thermoduric bacteria have developed mechanisms to resist heat. They have an ability to create a protective spore. These spores end up in finished products. They can begin growing, and as a consequence damage product.
Pasteurisation of raw milk kills the vast majority of bacteria that are likely to cause potential damage. However, some survive this process and those that do are the so-called thermoduric bacteria.
Thermoduric bacteria are organisms that exist in the environment. They exist in the soil, on silage, faeces, bedding, teat skin and water. They also exist in deposits on the internal surfaces of milking machines and bulk tanks.
So, how can the dairy farmer minimise thermoduric levels? Good hygiene is the key. Not alone does this apply to the cow, but it also applies to her environment. For instance, approach roads to the parlour, collecting yards, cubicle beds and passageways. How clean are they?
The cow herself, for instance, has her tail been clipped? And lastly, if you are washing cows' teats they should be dried with paper towels, where necessary. This last one will obviously slow down cow flow through the parlour.