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Part 2


The unit should be located as centrally as possible within a given milk-producing area, near a source of water, or in a place where water is available. The site should be cool and well-ventilated. Sometimes not all these conditions can be met. The most important factor is availability of water. It should be remembered that on average five litres of water are required to process one litre of milk.


Milk and dairy products are biologically active substances which are influenced by their environment. Cheese quality and reliability depend largely on the surroundings in which cheese is manufactured. An unused building can be purchased or leased and adapted for milk processing operations, or a new building can be constructed. It is not uncommon to find in some remote milk-producing areas, abandoned milk collection centres which may be suitable.

For a new building, the following factors should be taken into consideration:

For village cheese manufacture, the second component of the building is the ripening cellar.

The most important features of a ripening cellar are maximum moisture (80 percent relative humidity) and low temperature (8 to 12°C). To achieve or approach these standards, a room partly below ground level is recommended. It should be about 2.5 m high. The floor of the room should be dug to a level of some 1.5 m below ground, with windows or openings made in the upper walls to lower the temperature of the cellar by a circulating draught, particularly important during the night.

Building size will of course depend on the quantity of milk received during the peak production period. An average quantity of milk which can be processed by a small-scale unit amounts to 100 to 500 litres per day. For these quantities the building area should be some 50 sq. m.

Section of the processing unit

Diagram of building layout

Sectional diagram of processing unit and equipment


As previously pointed out, milk processing operations will take place far from urban consumption centres. In these areas the quantities of milk hardly exceed an average of 500 litres per day.

The products made must be able to withstand long periods of transportation, often under difficult climatic conditions.

Milk products can be processed as illustrated:

Butter, cheese and processed cheese may require lengthy transportation, given the distance from consumer centres, whereas buttermilk and yoghurt can be marketed in the vicinity of the processing unit. The whey will be returned to the dairy farmers.

The main steps in obtaining the above products are:

In addition to the eight steps mentioned above, milk collection, milk analyses and the marketing of the finished products should be equally regarded as important operations.

Each one of these important operations is described in the following chapter according to the five traditional operations: reception, standardization, processing, storage and distribution.


The equipment needed to run the dairy processing plant depends on several factors: how much milk is to be collected, how far and how scattered are the milk producers, what kind of product is to be produced?

In the standard milk processing pattern, commencing with milk collection and ending with the sale of the dairy products, the following equipment would normally be required:

1. For collection

The amount and density of the milk collected from each producer should be entered in a notebook. The following is a sample entry:

No.Name of producerAmount delivered (litres)DensitySignature
1.Esperanza Chavez101.030 
2.Juan Chamaro  51.029 
3.Antonios Vargas151.038 
4.Musaline Chouco121.030 
5.Edgar Vasconez  51.032 
TOTAL: 47  

2. For processing

Milk scale and pailmilk funnels filter and milk canStandardization hand-operated separator
Wood-fuelled metal boilerGas-fuelled metal boiler

For 100–500 litre quantities of milk, milk pasteurization with a plate pasteurizer is not recommended.

There are other possible types of cheese vats, depending on the resources available to dairy producers. The following are a few examples:

The resulting cylinders are perforated as in the model below:

Bases and Lids are of wooden discs slightly smaller in diameter than the cylinders.

Moulds with bases and Lids

Cheese moulds may also be made of wood, their shape varying according to the type of cheese made.

The cheese-draining table, slanted forwards to facilitate draining of the whey, is made of wood.

Wooden cheese-draining table

3. For marketing

Marketing, as previously mentioned, is a very important aspect of overall operations. Quality of presentation is important. Wooden boxes made to accommodate the specific cheese shapes are used to transport the cheese to consumer areas.

Wooden cheese boxes


An important component in a dairy processing unit, is the laboratory.

Laboratory equipment should include the following:

Salut acidimeter used for selective testing of milk acidity immediately after reception of farmers' milk

• Fat content of milk

• Preparation of cultures

To prepare mesophilic cultures for cheese-making or thermophilic cultures for yoghurt-making, a strain of starter culture is initially required. Culturing and sub-culturing is done in individual 5, 10 and 15 litre containers.

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