We have to make monthly returns to the Rural Payments Agency detailing how much cow’s milk we have purchased each month and the average % fat and protein composition. The deadline to return this information at the end of each month is very short and quite honestly, it is a pain to do this, not to mention preparing the annual return, but until the Common Agricultural Policy and the milk quota system dies in April 2015, we have to do this.
In order to be able to return the % fat and protein figures, we have to send milk to the lab to be analysed. As part of the testing, we also look at the somatic cell count (SCC) and test for the presence of antibotics.
A low SCC indicates a healthy cow: below 200,000 cells/ml indicates a healthy cow. A high SCC can indicate mastitis, inflammation of the udder which in turn can have implications for cheese making as the yield can be affected with poor curd formation and reduced casein i.e. protein.
It is a good idea to test SCC as this will give you a better indication as to the quality and heaven knows, quality and yield count.