This research project aims to identify and assess currently used pre milking teat cleaning practices and investigate the nature of the decontamination problem in terms of levels and types of micro-organisms.
<p>Increasing competition in the market place and the demands of health and hygiene conscious consumers require very high standards of hygiene at all stages in the production of dairy products.
<p>The application of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles to the production of such products identifies the microbiological quality of the milk as a crucial factor and clearly for this the milk must be produced in a clean environment, from non-infected udders, using practices to minimise bacterial contamination.
<p>A number of factors contribute to the exposure of the teats to pathogenic organisms. These include housing facilities, management practices, parlour type/design, milking practices, cow stress levels, type of bedding, whether housed and type of housing.
<p>In order to control the level of contamination of the teats and therefore the milk, these factors must be effectively managed in conjunction with the application of effective decontamination procedures.
<p>Hygienic teat management means that the teats should be clean with minimal bacterial load and this can be achieved by a combination of appropriate housing, bedding, housing cleaning and teat cleaning practices. The use of pre-milking cleaning may be an essential part of the management strategy.
<p>The project will identify and assess pre-milking teat cleaning practices in current use and investigate the nature of the decontamination problem in terms of levels and types of micro-organisms.
Pre-milking teat treatments in current use will be assessed in a split herd design to assess the efficacy of the cleaning techniques by teat swabbing before and after treatment, and analysis by Total Viable Count and ATP bioluminescence.
<p>Trials will be conducted in triplicate farms of two parlour types over a 12 week period during the summer (low/dry soiling) and winter (high/heavy) soiling.
<p>The treatments will be selected on the basis of the results of a questionnaire sent to farmers to establish current pre-milking cleaning methods.
<p>The controlled studies will be planned in detail on the basis of initial trials to establish the levels and types of micro-organisms on a variety of farms selected to give a range of parlour types, total milk bacterial counts, geographical location, mastitis incidence, herd size and soil type.
<p>Analysis of the results of the controlled studies will allow the production of best practice guidelines.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.