Frequently Asked Questions

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What kind of testing does Dairy Herd Laboratory do?

Here in our laboratory we test for all types of bacteria, fungi, and parasites. We operate an Independent Milk Quality Control Testing lab, and can process many sample type, including milk, blood, fecal, water, soil, feed, bedding, and virutally any other non-contaminated sample type.

What is Mastitis?

Mastitis is the inflammation of the mammary gland or udder tissue that effects many dairy animals, and can be caused by a variety of bacteria. Milk secreating tissues in the udder can become damaged and sometimes permanent damage, or even death can occur in severe cases. It is the most common disease in dairy cattle, as well as the most costly disease in the dairy industry in the US.

What is Mycoplasma?

Mycoplasmas are small, and often time highly contagious disease causing bacteria that lack a cell wall. Without such cell wall, they are unaffected by many common antibiotics, such as penicillin, which specifically target the cell wall. They can cause disease in all major species of animals, including humans. In farm animals, mycoplasmas can cause mastitis, respiratory disease, arthritis, genital disease, and eye lesions.

What is SPC, and its acceptable levels?

SPC (Standard Plate Count) is a method for determining the number of bacteria in foods, such as milk, colostrum, ice cream, carrots, and many other items.

SPC (Standard Plate Count) Levels:

  • Less than 5,000 = Excellent
  • Greater than 10,000 = Action is needed

A High SPC can be caused from:

  • ƒImproper milking hygiene
  • Inadequate cleaning of equipment and milk tank ƒ
  • Inadequate cleaning of non-CIP parts (i.e.: tank valves, etc) ƒ
  • Failure to sanitize before milking ƒ
  • Improper or inadequate cooling ƒ
  • Worn rubber goods ƒ
  • Milk filters used for too long ƒ
  • Inadequate drainage ƒ
  • High number of mastitis cows
What is LPC, and its acceptable levels?

The LPC (Lab Pasturization Count) test is doing a standard plate count on milk that is pasteurized in the lab. The mastitis pathogens are killed and what remains are organisms that keep on growing in the milk and reduce shelf life. These organisms are not from cows' udders. They are usually spore–formers, like bacillus or pseudomonas, which live in rubber hoses and some water supplies.

LPC (Lab Pasturization Count) Levels:

  • Less than 100 = Excellent
  • Greater than 200 = Action is needed

A High LPC can be caused from:

  • Inadequate equipment washing – Dirty Equipment
  • Inadequate milk tank washing - Dirty Equipment
  • ƒ Cracked and worn rubber goods
  • ƒ Prevalent when soil visible after wash
  • ƒ Biofilms (seen most in extended milking)
What is PI, and its acceptable levels?

PI (Preliminary Incubation) is a method to help determine the shelf-life of the milk.

PI (Preliminary Incubation) Levels:

  • Less than 10,000 = Excellent
  • Greater than 25,000 = Action is needed

A High PI can be caused from:

  • Inadequate equipment washing – Dirty Equipment
  • Dirty milking equipment
  • Dirrty udders
  • Improperly sanitized equipment
  • Early fall-off of the milking unit
  • Sediment in milk
  • Cracked and worn rubber goods
  • Poor Udder Preparation
  • Improper Cooling
  • Contaminated water
  • Improper drainage – water sitting in pipeline
What are Coliform Bacteria, and its acceptable levels?

Coliform bacteria are a commonly used bacterial indicator of sanitary quality of foods and water. Coliforms can be found in the aquatic environment, in soil and on vegetation; they are universally present in large numbers in the feces of warm-blooded animals.

CC (Coliform Count) Levels:

  • Less than 50 = Excellent
  • Greater than 200 = Action is needed

A High Coliform Count can be caused from:

  • Indication of fecal matter in milk
  • Milking wet dirty udders
  • Cow Cleanliness
  • Liner Head Cleanliness
  • Towel sanitation
  • Use of contaminated water
What is an Antibiotic Sensitivity Testing?

Antibiotic Sensitivity testing is a procedure that allows us to test the effectiveness and sensitivity of different antibiotics on a certain strain of bacteria.

What kind of samples does Dairy Herd Lab accept?

We accept any non-contaminated sample you can get your hands on. Our most popular sample mediums include:

  • Blood samples
  • Milk samples
  • Water samples
  • Fecal samples
  • Food samples (dairy products, meat, produce, ect..)
How to take a clean & aseptic milk sample before shipping to your lab?
  • Remove any loose dirt or bedding debris from udder and teats
  • Squirt several streams of milk from the teat to be sampled
  • Clean teats with cotton balls soaked in 70% rubbing alcohol & allow to completely dry
  • Label each tube with a Tube # using a permanent marker
  • Carefully remove cap from tube, make sure not to touch the inside of cap or top of tube
  • Squirt milk into sterile test tube, and cap immediately
  • Refrigerate or freeze sample right away .
What kind of animal samples can you test?

We test any type of Animals for bacteria, parasites, and fungus, including livestock, pets, or wild animals. Our most popular animals include:

  • Cattle
  • Equine
  • Goats
  • Llamas
  • Chickens
  • Humans
Do you test food products too?

Yes, we test for a variety of food products. Our most popular include:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Ice cream
  • Produce
  • Meat (beef, pork, poultry)
  • Fish
What is a bulk milk sample?

A bulk milk sample is a sample from the milk tank directly from the dairy. It represents all the cows at that dairy. Bulk milk samples help give a general idea of the health of the cows and bacterial make up of the milk.

How much milk is required for a sample?

For any bacterial culture or test (Mastitis, Myco, E. Coli, Salmonella, ect) 5-10 mL is required.

For a Somatic Cell Count (SCC) a minimum of 30-40 mL of milk is required (~1-1.5 oz)

Where can I purchase Sterile Screw-Top Culture Tubes?

You can purchase a set of 25 Sterile Screw-Top Culture Tubes here.

How do I pay for my testing?

For first time customers, please include your payment in check or cash form with your samples when you ship them to our Lab.

For small sample sizes (1 to 10 samples), please include the payment with your samples when you ship them to our Lab.

For regular customers we will send an invoice for the testing done at the end of every month.

For pricing please check our Services page (Please note that there is different pricing for Dairy Cows, Goats, Other items).

Microbiology Services in AZ

Contact Us
  • Full Cow & Bulk Tank Analysis
  • Clinical & Sub-clinical Mastitis
  • Detection of Bacteria in Feed
  • Detection of Bacteria in Water