The dairy parlour must be designed and constructed in a manner that permits all operations to be performed under sanitary conditions and possess mechanisms that prevent the contamination of milk. The layout of the dairy parlour must facilitate all necessary functions while ensuring the prevention of injury to dairy animals and employees.
A lack of or poor facility standards can disrupt the operations of dairy men, reduce performance and impact negatively on income. A maintenance schedule is critical in order to maintain high operating standards and to remain complaint with health regulations as set out by the Public Health Department. Routine inspections are conducted by the authorities to ensure that parlours remain compliant with national public health and food safety standards.
Below are some guidelines to help both new and existing dairy farmers ensure that facilities standards are achieved and adhered to:
- Building should be flexible in design, of adequate size, low cost but durable and should be equipped with proper feeding and handling equipment.
- Dairy barns and milking parlours should be constructed to prevent the contamination of milk produced on the farm.
- Barns for calves should be constructed separately from milking animals.
- Milking parlour should have a drainage system attached to an appropriate waste disposal system.
- The milking parlour should be secure to prevent the entry of no other animals other than the dairy animals. The milking parlour should be equipped with external doors and windows that are kept closed and/or fitted with screens or mesh to avoid the entry of dust, insects, rodents, dogs or birds.
- The facility must be easy to clean and should be kept clean at all times. Waste materials should not be accumulated on the walls or floor.
- Floor of the milking area should be non-slip and textured for the comfort of the cows.
- Flooring should be freely drained and maintained to prevent cracks/breaks and the accumulation of water.
- There should be a suitable area for storage and cooling of milk that is easily accessed by the milk collection truck.
- Animals should enter and exit the parlour in one direction with no turns. The entrance and exit for the animals should easily lead to requisite holding areas pre and post milking.
- Foot baths should be provided to sanitize and remove excess debris from hooves prior to entry to the parlour. It is recommended that foot baths should be 4.5 metres long and 25-30 cm deep.
- The dairy facility should have sufficient lighting to allow for person to carry out milking and sanitization activities effectively.
- Surrounding areas should be kept clean at all times. These areas should remain free of materials that can harbour pest such as insects and rodents.
- A proper waste management system should be in place. Garbage and other waste should be properly disposed of and should not accumulate around the dairy facility.
- Calves should be fed with colostrum at birth and up to 72 hours thereafter. Colostrum provides a wide range of nutrient such as calcium, protein and fat and is also a source of antibodies for the prevention of diseases.
- Calves should be provided with fresh and clean calf starter, milk replacer and water daily.
- Calves diet should be high quality during their pre-weaning period.
- Calves should be kept separated from other classes of animals on the farm.
- The area should be well ventilated and kept as clean as possible.
- Bedding in the calf barn is import to provide comfort for the animal. Bedding should be dry to reduce the potential for infections by pathogens.
- Calves should be provided with adequate shade from the direct sunlight and rain.
- Dairy heifers should be provided with proper nutrition to facilitate growth and maintain normal health.
- Animals should be kept in a dry sheltered area which is free from draft.
- The growth and health of the heifer is critical in her growth and development into a dairy cow.
- Animals should be bred at the correct age and weight.
- Pregnant animals must have access to a minimum of 75-80 litres of fresh, clean drinking water daily.
- Pregnant heifers should be placed in a separate area 6 -8 weeks before calving.
- Cows are generally milked twice per day.
- Milk should be obtained from animals that are in good health.
- Perform on farm tests to ensure that milk collected if of good quality. (Strip test, CMT)
- Udder and teats of the animal should be cleaned and dried before milking.
- Teats should be cleaned and sanitized with a teat dip solution and dried before and after milking.
- Practice good milking hygiene for the collection and storage of milk.
- Perform teat dipping after milking to prevent infection of the udder.
- All equipment used in the production, handling, cooling and storage of milk should be made of material that are easy to clean and be kept in good working order.
- Equipment and containers should be smooth, corrosion resistant and made of non-toxic materials.
- Equipment should be stored in a way to prevent contamination of the milk
- Equipment should be used for their designed purposes.
- All equipment that come in direct contact with the milk should always be covered and protected to prevent dust, insects and any other contaminants.
- All milking equipment should be sanitized thoroughly before and after each milking session.
- The dairy facility should have an area for storage of su+pplies.
- All veterinary drugs and other chemicals should be stored in closed containers to prevent the contamination of milk contact surfaces. There should also be a refrigerator to store medications.
- No pesticide, fertilizers and any other toxic products should be stored in milking parlours and milk rooms.
- All cleaning and sanitizing agents should be in containers that are properly labeled by the manufacturer.
- Storage area for feed should be in good condition and well ventilated to avoid feed spoilage or contamination.
- A reliable and high quality water supply is essential to operate dairy farms.
- All water that is supplied to the milking parlour should be tested frequently by Public Health
- Watering systems should be free of leaks to save water and money.
- Water provided for animals should be potable and at room temperature.
- A water treatment system may also be used when using water from untreated sources.
- Milkers should be dressed appropriately in clean clothing/uniforms while milking or handling milk.
- Good personal hygiene supports good milking hygiene and ensures the collection of good quality milk.
- Hair and beard should be covered at all times to prevent the contamination of milk.
- Hands should be washed clean and dried before milking and handling the animals.
- Hand washing facilities should be present and located in areas convenient to employees and should be separates from areas used for sanitizing equipment.
- All employees/ handlers of milk should have a valid Food Handlers permit which is obtained at the Ministry of Health and Wellness and should be renewed every six months.