Thursday, October 17, 2013

Making Butter

I think I found a new happier way to wash my butter.  I never considered doing it the way she shows, but I absolutely love simplicity, so I'm going to start washing my butter this way when I make butter.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

October's Milk Test Results

Good news!  The bacterial count and the coliform count are great! The somatic cell count is high, but still passing. I have been watching the CMT results carefully on her left hind quarter, and slowly but surely, the somatic cell count is receding. I called my veterinarian and explained that this was the same quarter that was injured almost two months ago, and he assured me that since there was no bacterial growth on the private lab results (the state test results concur with the private lab), and because the quarter isn't giving abnormal milk, Ruby doesn't have mastitis. She is shedding leukocytes (white blood cells) because the tissue in that quarter is still healing. Makes sense. The last CMT I did was two days ago and the results were negative, so I'm feeling assured that the quarter is getting better.

And with that preamble, here are the results from October's state milk quality test:

Standard Plate Count (total bacteria, benign and otherwise) <2500/mL (passing is <15,000, and the state test doesn't go lower than 2500/mL)

Coliform (bacteria from environmental contamination) <1/mL (passing is <25/mL)

Somatic Cell Count (can indicate mastitis) 470,000/mL (passing is <500,000/mL)

I just want to take a moment to reiterate my personal goals in regards to the milk quality tests.  I want to have a standard plate count of <2500/mL, a coliform count of <1/mL, and a somatic cell count of <200,000/mL.  While I didn't make my own personal goals, I still passed the state's standards for raw milk quality.  I am pleased with these results, especially since I have a likely explanation for the high somatic cell count, and I am seeing gradual and steady improvement on the CMT results. 

With all of this pleasing news about the quality of Ruby's milk, I feel an ice cream making session coming on...  YUM!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Private Lab Test Results

All samples showed no growth. Good news! Yet, we still have a quarter (Left Hind) that is showing a trace to +1 on the CMT. So, I'm going to retest in a week if that quarter hasn't improved.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

California Mastitis Test (CMT) Tutorial Video

This is the most useful CMT tutorial video I have seen on the internet.

Milk Tests by a Private Lab

I have been running a California Mastitis Test (CMT) on my cow nearly every day for at least three weeks.  At the September state-run test, my cow had a higher-than-I-wanted somatic cell count, and an astronomical bacterial count.  The first several CMTs showed the left hind quarter positive (+2) on the somatic cell count, and the other three quarters had a trace or +1.  I wanted to avoid antibiotics, if at all possible, because of the milk withdrawal period.  So I began milking three times a day and applying a minty salve to the outside of her udder after milking to stimulate blood flow to the area, in an effort to break up any congestion inside the udder.  Over the course of a week and a half, the CMT showed less and less positive results, so the treatment has been working.  I have since switched back to only twice a day milking (making time to milk 3x per day is really difficult), but there is still a +1 result coming from the left hind quarter.

Today the state took its sample of the milk to the lab, and while the collector was here, I asked her where I might get additional tests done, between the official state tests.  She gave me several vials and the contact information for two labs where I can get tests done.  I brought a sample to be tested for bacterial count and type to a lab this morning.  I really want to see a bacterial count of less than 2500 per ml, and a somatic cell count of less than 200,000 per ml.  If there is a particular organism causing the inflammation in that left hind quarter, knowing what type of bug it is will help me know what action to take to get rid of it.  When I have the bacterial count down where I want it, I am thinking the somatic cell count will also go down.  I'll post again when I have the results.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Baby Chicks!

Nothing makes me feel quite like baby chicks do.  I just love picking them up from the hatchery or the post office and settling them in.  These have been here nearly a week, and I'm late in putting up a post about them.  I have 36+ chicks.  I lost count because I had so many helpers (my very excited children) when I was taking them out of the box, but I know I ordered 35, plus I got a free rare chick, from Murray McMurray Hatchery.  We don't know what kind of chick the rare one is, so we'll just get to see how it grows.  You can see the oddball in the upper right corner of the picture.  It's the brown one.

Ten of these little ones are Delaware chicks for my mom.  They are yellow with a little bit of black on their heads.  They will grow white feathers with tips of black at maturity.  My mother wanted new chicks, but didn't think she had a place to brood them.  So, I'm brooding hers for her, and she'll take them from me when they are feathered out.  The remaining 25 are White Leghorn chicks, well-known for being the best white egg producing breed available.  They are completely yellow as chicks, and will grow all white feathers at maturity.  I hope to be able to keep up with my customers' demands with younger, more productive chickens.  Right now I joke that I'm running a chicken retirement center!  Time for those old ladies to be sent to the freezer.  Next year I'll get more brown egg layers, and the batch after that, I'll replace my Araucanas (green egg layers).  I like to see a variety of colors in my egg cartons.  It just makes me happy.