Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Counting DOWN

If you're a follower of this blog (i.e "stalker") then you might recall our dairy situation. But for those who are new or just forgetful like so many of us Midlifarians, I'll recap. Eight months ago Foremost Coop told us to stop selling raw milk to any folks who came to the farm in need of such. Even though we'd been selling to Foremost for over a decade without any problems , even though all our IDPH inspections were good and even though  selling raw milk is legal in Illinois as long as the customer brings their own container.

Fresh whole raw milk seconds after the cow is milked just
 before it goes into our stainless steel holding tank.
 From there it goes direct to the consumer or the swine of choice.

So we stopped selling milk to Foremost and all our milk is now utilized by selling it raw (non-homogenized, unpasteurized)  direct to farm visitors or by feeding it to our pigs. Sales continue to grow (as do our hogs) every month. Funny thing happened on the way to self-sufficiency. The IDPH (Illinois Department of Public Health)  decided they no longer would grant us the Grade A license we had held for over 10 years, because they were no longer going to survey our dairy. Strange way of thinking. IDPH had publicly stated many times their belief that raw milk is dangerous yet when we asked them to please keep surveying us so we could held accountable to the high standards of Grade A licensure...they said NO.

What's a self-sufficient, responsible, certified organic dairy owner to do ?

Well..we continue to follow the IDPH standards for a Grade A Dairy, one of which is the testing of the milk for various things. One required test (if we were licensed but we are not, so its not "required" of us anymore ) is the test for SCC or Somatic Cell Count. Simply put, the SCC is an indicator of milk quality with  "somatic" referring to white blood cells. Somatic cells originate from INSIDE the cows udder and is considered one way of measuring animal health. If a cow has "mastitis" or inflammation of the udder, the SCC will rise. The SCC of Grad A Dairies should not be above one million cells per milliliter states the USDA  (United States Department of Agriculture). Cows with a SCC of less than 200,000 are considered healthy and will not likely show any signs of mastitis. The average SCC for  Grade A Dairies nationwide in 2009, was 233,000.

Our SCC last month was 90,000  (actual report available upon request to any past, present or future milk customer of ours)

Credit for this goes to our massive employee base. Both of them. Keith who milks 95% of the time and our relief milker (and son) Jason. Its because of their technique and overall herd management that our SCC is so low.

 Oh OK. I'll take a little credit. I am the one who does all the NAGGING about all the rules and regs.  Now back to IDPH.  You would think that they would WANT to survey us, to find out what we are doing well so the information can be shared with others  thus lowering SCC measurements for other dairies who sell both conventional and raw milk. Isn't that what they say they are about , a safe food supply ? I mean it just seems so logical.


  1. AWESOME BLOG! This needs to be passed on. IDPH representatives should see this.

    Midlife Farmwifes proud son

  2. Logic and government RARELY go hand in hand...