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Teagasc Milk Quality Conference

The key to continued production of quality milk is to have correct information, make the right decisions and carry out the recommended actions correctly. That was the clear message from a milk quality conference taking place at the Horse & Jockey Hotel, County Tipperary, today, Wednesday, 4th December. Maintenance and improvement in milk quality will be increasingly challenging in the expanding milk production environment post-quota. The continued high quality of Irish milk can give Irish dairy products the competitive edge on world markets.

Four technical sessions taking place today will deal with issues of the food industry, bacterial quality of milk, residues in milk and milk somatic cell count. Finally, there will be a panel discussion focusing on issues critical to driving of the dairy product industry in Ireland. Each technical session will commence with an overview paper presented by an expert in the area. Two overview papers on bacterial quality and somatic cell count will have an international perspective; they will be presented by experts from Denmark and US, respectively. The remaining papers will also give facts and guidance on the production of premium quality milk on-farm, which will be required for future development of the industry. Also, detail of the new quality assurance scheme will be outlined by An Bord Bia.

Teagasc researcher Dr. Bernadette O'Brien said that the critical prerequisite for the manufacture of quality dairy products is to start with milk of the highest quality. The milk quality criteria requested by milk processors and by customers are generally becoming more strict and rigorous. It is important that requests to milk producers for improved quality milk be accompanied by the necessary information required to produce such milk, particularly in light of new pressures from expansion of herds and the reality of reduced labour supply.

This milk quality conference is the latest event in an overall strategy to improve milk quality on-farm. It follows a ‘Milking Equipment Cleaning Guide’, as well as a new series of video clips showing critical stages of milking management through to bulk tank milk storage on both smaller and larger farms.

This conference will bring the various relevant stakeholders together with a view to production of premium quality milk while maximising profitability for producers and efficiency and markets for processors.