When a cow is sick she generally needs medicine to feel better. Did you know that once a cow has been treated (received medicine) her milk/meat cannot enter the food system until ALL of that medicine has left her system?
So what do we as farmers do to ensure that the milk/meat you buy is free from antibiotics and other medicines? Here are important steps we take at our farm to keep your food safe.
Immediately when a cow is treated she receives 2 red Velcro leg bands. Red means STOP. This is a fairly universal rule in any milking parlor.
These 2 simple bands allow everyone to know that her milk cannot go in to the bulk tank.But she still needs milked. Her milker will now hook up to a separate bucket. This way the milk she gives until her withdrawal (the time it takes for medicine to leave her system) is over can be dumped down the drain.
All medicine comes with a mandatory withdrawal time. It varies from medicine to medicine and has been established from many trials done by veterinarians and scientist.
We are required by law that ALL of our medicines are clearly labeled with the withdrawal times. Regardless if they are purchased over the counter or a persciption is required.
It’s important to keep track of all the medicines a cow is given. This way she can continue to receive care accordingly and we know when her milk can be sold again. For ease of communication we have a large white board that hangs in our parlor to record any treatments given.
This is not a very long standing record. We have a computer system where we enter all of our medical (as well as many other) records. Medical records are available on any of our animals that cover the time they were born until the leave the herd.
The cows identification number, medicine given and date are entered in to the records system. If you happen to enter a cow is leaving the farm before all of her withdrawals are done the computer alerts you. This is another great tool!
Farmers work diligently to keep the food you buy safe. Every load of milk is checked for antibiotics and other medicines before being unloaded to be processed. Over 3 million loads were checked last year (that’s a lot of milk!). Out of 3 million loads there were only 371 loads that tested positive. These loads had to be dumped.
You can buy your milk at the store with confidence knowing several steps have been put in place to make sure you are buying the safest and tastiest milk possible!