Farm Progress

A 15-year effort to improve milk quality continues to show progress.

Paula Mohr, Editor, The Farmer

July 3, 2017

2 Min Read
KEEPING IT CLEAN: Emphasis on milking procedures, cow comfort, herd health and other aspects of dairy herd management has helped dairy farmers in Minnesota improve their cows’ milk quality over the past decade.

With a nod toward June Dairy Month, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has recognized 111 top dairy farms in the state that have the highest-quality milk, based on their herds’ low somatic cell count scores.

Somatic cell count is a key indicator of milk quality — a lower SCC count is better for cheese production and a longer shelf life for bottled milk. Dairy farms recognized for top herd management skills had an average SCC of less than 100,000 cells per milliliter.

For nearly 15 years, MDA and University of Minnesota dairy experts have worked with the state’s dairy farmers to lower somatic cell counts. When the initiative began in 2003, the 100 herds honored that year included those with SCC averages as high as 144,000, compared to the current goal of obtaining a SCC under 100,000.

Although SCCS occur naturally and are not a food safety concern, dairy farmers monitor them because they can be used as a measure of the health of their cows. Processors also pay a premium for milk with low counts. A farmer whose herd has a very low count can receive a significantly higher price per hundredweight than to a farmer whose herd count average is high.

The top 25 farms in Minnesota listed by producer, county and plant for low SCC, from lowest to highest as of June, are:

• Dan and Jolen Schlangen, Stearns, First District Association

• Roger and Laura Primus, Todd, Osakis Creamery

• Gregory Dairy LLC, Stearns, First District Association

• Jeff Middendorf, Stearns, First District Association

• Hendel Farms, Houston, Associated Milk Producers Inc.

• Knisley Dairy Inc., Kandiyohi, First District Association 

• Jon and Wendy Meyer, Wabasha, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery

• Marshall and Melanie Korn, Kandiyohi, First District Association

• James Hesse, Carver, Bongards' Creameries

• Anthony and Matt Bertold, Wabasha, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery

• Keith Middendorf, Todd, First District Association

• Randy and Kathy Bauer, Rice, Agropur-Le Sueur Cheese

• Riverview LLP West Dublin, Swift, First District Association

• Robert and Terri Ketchum, Winona, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery

• Felling Dairy LLC, Stearns, First District Association

• Ron and Cindy Middendorf, Stearns, First District Association

• Kent Happke, Morrison, Associated Milk Producers Inc.

• Reuben and Janice Stommes, Stearns, First District Association

• Joe and Kim Engelmeyer   Stearns   Bongards' Creameries

• Soo Line Dairy Inc., Stearns, First District Association

• Suzanne Jacobs, Otter Tail, Nelson Creamery Association

• Paul and Bonnie Middendorf, Todd, Nelson Creamery Association

• Ron and Sue Johnson, Chisago. Land O'Lakes Inc.

• Schreiber Brothers Dairy, Winona, Plainview Milk Products Cooperative

• Nosbush Dairy, Renville, First District Association

For the full list, visit MDA's Minnesota Dairy Herds with Low Somatic Cell Counts webpage.

Source: MDA

About the Author(s)

Paula Mohr

Editor, The Farmer

Mohr is former editor of The Farmer.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like