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The Country Enterprise Handbook
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........ Milk
>..In the dairy
...Dealing with milk

The milk you take from goat, sheep or cow will either be in a pail if you milk by hand, or in a churn of some type if you milk by machine.

If you have a large number of animals, there is another possibility: it may flow straight from the animal to a bulk tank. With a bulk tank, your system will incorporate filters and a cooling system. If you do not have this degree of automation, you will still have to filter and cool the milk. With the milk from one goat you can simply strain it through some filter paper and put it in jugs or bottles in the fridge. It is more effective to cool even a small quantity of milk by standing it in a receptacle in a bowl of running water. With larger amounts of milk, the system becomes more complicated. With a few cows you can strain the milk from one churn to another through specific milk filters. There are water-cooled radiators to run the milk over to cool it or you can develop Heath-Robinson-type gadgets.

The aim is the same however you do it: to strain the milk of unwanted dust and impurities and to cool it in order to slow the natural processes of 'going off. The problem with handling milk is that it is an extremely perishable product. It will also pick up flavours from the air, for example, silage clamps too close to the dairy can taint the milk. Odd greenstuff consumed by the milk animals can also produce 'off flavours. The usual example quoted to illustrate this kind of disaster is the flavour produced in cows milk when the herd has happily consumed quantities of wild garlic. The traditional remedy in cases like this is to make the garlic-flavoured milk into soft cheese. Of course, if you had intended to sell the milk whole or as fruit yoghurt, your problems are clear.

EEC regulations aim to prevent the sale of untreated milk. The threat of these regulations being enforced across the board seems to have been lifted at least for a time. Many people appreciate the flavour of 'raw' milk and farmers who bottle direct are naturally fighting this threat to their way of life. There is now a relatively small milk pasteurisation unit on the market which may make the possibly inevitable compulsory pasteurisation more feasible on the farm. If you intend to sell your milk to the Milk Marketing Board, you will be kept informed as to the levels of antibiotics and dirt in your milk. The obvious position should be that there is none. If the milk is sold direct by you or further processed, there are few tests unless you are processing cow's milk. If you produce milk that is not absolutely clean and then process it into cheese you will find that odd flavours and moulds develop.