Evaluating On-Farm Pasteurization of Waste Milk Focus of NYFVIâ€“Funded Project Research findings will be used to develop monitoring frequency guidelines as a way for farmers to routinely check the operating effectiveness of their farm's pasteurizer. Published on: Jul 21, 2006 Tweet Post to Your Wall. Email Story RSS Permalink Print Healthier calves, a recycled former waste product, and reduced cost of doing business as a dairy farmer are the goals of the On-Farm Pasteurization Evaluation of Waste Milk project funded by the New York Farm Viability Institute, Inc. Seven Western New York dairy farms - with herds of 600 cows up to 4,000 cows - are participating in the pilot project led by Dr. Michael Capel of the Perry Veterinary Clinic, Geneseo, NY. "Whole milk has numerous economic and health benefits over milk replacer as a liquid feed source for calves, and waste milk represents the most affordable source of whole milk on the dairy farm. The on-farm pasteurization of waste milk has emerged as a feasible way to reduce the risk of infectious disease from bacteria in unpasteurized waste milk. There remains, however, a need to quantify the effectiveness of the on-farm pasteurization process and develop guidelines that will help farmers monitor and maximize their use of this resource." Waste milk is the milk collected from cows that have just calved or are not in the production line. The 2002 National Animal Health Monitoring Service report indicated that 87% of dairy farms across the U.S. feed some waste milk to their calves. The dairies participating in the NYFVI-funded project have been feeding on-farm pasteurized waste milk for at least one year; none of the farms use any routine quality control protocol. Six of the participating farms use a high temperature, short time continuous flow pasteurization system; one farm uses a low temperature, long-time batch pasteurizer. Capel and two pre-veterinary students from State University of New York at Geneseo collected pre- and post-pasteurized milk samples at each farm three times a week for 10 weeks. Quality Milk Production Services, a division of the NYS Diagnostic Lab at Cornell University, tested the samples at its Geneseo lab. Capel is now analyzing the data to quantify the reduction in bacteria achieved by each pasteurizer and to measure the variability of effectiveness of the pasteurizers over time. This information, in turn, will be used to develop monitoring frequency guidelines as a way for farmers to routinely check the operating effectiveness of their farm's pasteurizer. Capel is working with the Quality Milk Production Services lab to develop a diagnostic panel that dairy producers could use to evaluate their pasteurizers. Routine testing is essential for ensuring calves are fed a healthy product. A survey of startup and operational costs, along with published literature reports on the health and growth benefits of feeding pasteurized waste milk, will be used to build an economic cost-benefit model to help farmers predict the financial return of adopting on-farm pasteurization. "If using pasteurized milk keeps calves healthier, the farmer will profit from less sick animals to treat, lower death rates, and more high quality replacement animals for their herds," Capel says. Sue DeGroff, calf manager at Table Rock Farm, Castile, NY, says, "The only research related to evaluating pasteurizer performance has been performed under laboratory settings, not working farm environments. We are interested in generating data to better evaluate and monitor the efficacy of our pasteurizer on a day-to-day basis."