Friday, May 2, 2014

Antibiotics And Milk? What's The Deal?

So what's the deal on antibiotics in milk? It is a frequently asked question when I share my life as a farmer with groups and individuals. I have always been very honest, open and transparent about what we do on our farm, and I will continue to do so with this topic as well. 

As consumers, you and I want to serve our family the safest foods available. We farmers have the same concerns as the people who buy our products. Remember, we at Bremer Farms not only produce milk, we buy it too.

We spend much of our day caring for our animals to keep them healthy (and happy). Healthy cows are a priority with farmers. Unfortunately, just like you and me, even healthy creatures get sick. On Bremer Farms, and other farms too, antibiotics are given only when they are needed to treat and cure illness, just like when you or your children aren't feeling well. When we make the decision to use antibiotics they are given for a prescribed period of time to treat a specific illness so our cows don't suffer. They are NOT routinely given as prevention to keep our animals healthy. They are used on an "as-needed" basis.

Waiting to be milked.
If a cow is treated with needed antibiotics to deal with a sickness, the milk from that cow goes directly into a separate milking bucket. It never goes into the bulk milk tank or makes it into the food supply. We continue this procedure until all antibiotic residue has left the cows system. After repeated testing for this residue, only after there is no trace of antibiotics in the milk, will this cows milk be allowed to go into the bulk tank.

Another load of antibiotic-free milk heads to the processing plant.
 Our milk processing plant also helps to keep milk safe. Every single load of milk that leaves our farm (and every farm) is tested for antibiotic residue. Rarely is any found but if it is, the entire load of milk is discarded immediately, and the responsible farmer must pay for the entire load of milk...not just the milk from his farm, but the milk from the other farms that were in the truck too. This can amount to thousands of dollars. Besides financial losses, dairy farmers run the risk of reputation damage and the risk of losing their license to sell milk. Everyone involved in milk production takes antibiotic residue very seriously! I can say with confidence and pride that all milk you purchase from your local grocery store is antibiotic free. So that's the real deal about antibiotics and milk. Any more questions?

I need your help in preparation for June Dairy Month. Each June I write an
A to Z Dairy blog-a-day celebrating dairy farming and dairy foods. I'm looking for topic suggestions for each letter of the alphabet. What would you like to know? So leave me a comment, click on the contact me tab, tweet me or use Google+. Thanks for your help!

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