The California Milk Test is a rapid test method to identify high cell count quarters within high cell count cows, according to Don Crowley, Teagasc Milk Quality Specialist, Clonakilty.
Teagasc said that this is a simple, low-cost test that can be done by farmers themselves and a very useful management tool to reduce somatic cell count in your herd.
How does it work?
The state agency have produced a video to demonstrate how the test is carried. In this video, Crowley explains the procedure for testing each quarter of a high cell count cow.
“Ideally, when you’re trying to identify high cell count quarters within high cell count cows, if you had a milk recording done or your cell count back from the co-op, then we’ll go to the high cell count cows and try to identify the high cell count quarters.”
“The format you can buy them in is a tray with 4 different wells, representing 4 different quarters. The reagent is applied in equal quantities in each well. When you’re doing this procedure, it should be done prior to milking. You milk the first couple of squirts onto the ground, then you apply your milk to each well individually.”
“Try to avoid cross-infection when you’re applying into the tray. This can be quite difficult as cows might be agitated. For people new to this method, we would highly recommend that you get your 4-sample bottle and take a sample from each quarter.”
Crowley then explained what to look for when carrying out this test. “The higher the cell-count, the more-gloopy it will become. As we tip it forward and back, we’re looking for a reaction within the system. It’s only when you stir it that you can see the difference.”
After finds one of the quarters in his test is very thick, he explains what this reading means. “To get that kind of reaction, the quarter needs to be 2-3 million of a cell count. If there are just little grains in it, it’s between 500 and a million-and-a-half.”
Video source: Teagasc YouTube