29 May - 28 July, 2000


E-mail conference on
"Small Scale Milk Collection and Processing
in Developing Countries"

Discussion Paper 1.1







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Issues raised by the Conference Moderators:

The following paper is the first of the discussion papers, it is basically written from an Indian perspective; we would like to ask you the following questions:

  1. Could you give us an estimate of the percentage of milk produced in your farm/country/project/area that is spoiled due to poor hygiene at farm level, including transport and storage?
  2. What local or traditional  methods do you use to improve hygiene at farm level (e.g. providing clean pails, cleaning materials)? 
  3. What is better according to you: dry cleaning or washing the udders with water prior to milking?
  4. Do you have any simple extension materials on “good handmilking” or “Clean Milk Production” that you could send us?
  5. How can modern quality control and assurance systems like HACCP be applied to small scall milk producers in developing countries?



Discussion paper 1.1: Clean Milk Production and Support Services
(Topic 1: From Farm to Collection Point)

By: Dr OP Sinha. Consultant, Dairy Farmers’ Organisation, Management and Training A/6 Avkar Apartment, Near IRMA.  ANAND 388 001 (India)

1. Clean Milk Production

Agriculture is the base of India’s economy. Agriculture forms 31% of the national GDP (see e.g. http://www.nic.in/agricoop/stats.htm) and approximately 75% of India’s population live in villages and depend on crop and livestock farming for their livelihood. Livestock production, including dairying, plays a multipurpose role in the agriculture systems of India. Milk is a cheap but high value source of nutrients for the rural population. If milk is not produced hygienically it can affect the health of many people.

Besides being a health hazard, contamination of milk can lead to huge economical losses. Contamination occurs at different levels: at farm level, during collection and storage, and at processing centres. Milk contains many essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, minerals and vitamins and therefore acts as an ideal medium for rapid proliferation of harmful microorganisms. Milk needs to be protected from all possible sources of microbial contamination and various types of disease organisms. When the milk is secreted from the udder, it is almost sterile. The employment of hygienic practices at the time of milking is therefore one of the first and most important steps in clean milk production.

‘Clean Milk’ is generally defined as “milk drawn from the udder of healthy animals, which is collected in clean dry milking pails and free from extraneous matters like dust, dirt, flies, hay, manure etc. Clean milk has a normal composition, possesses a natural milk flavour with low bacterial count and is safe for human consumption”.

Clean milk production results in milk that:

  • is safe for human consumption and free from disease producing microorganisms;
  • has a high keeping quality;
  • has a high commercial value;
  • can be transported over long distances;
  • is a high quality base product for processing, resulting in high quality products.

Contamination and Control Measures at Farm Level
Potential sources of contamination of milk are dung, water, utensils, soil, feed, air, milking equipment, the animal and the milker her/himself. Contamination of milk can occur at the following levels:

  • Animal shed and environment.
  • The Animal
  • Milker and milking routine
  • Milking equipment
  • Storage and transport

Animal shed and environment: 
The animal shed is one of the main sources of contamination. At the same time however, a good shed protects against micro-organisms as it keeps out other animals, people, wind, rain and excessive heat, all increasing the danger of contamination. Mud, urine, faeces, and feed residues should regularly be removed from the shed. The shed should have proper drainage, sufficient light and ventilation. In very wet areas, sprinkling slaked lime over the surface will help to dry it out quickly.

The milking area of the shed needs special hygienic attention. The floor of the milkshed should be swept with clean water, and disinfected with one-percent bleaching powder solution. Facilities should be provided for a sufficient supply of safe and potable water for drinking, washing udders and flanks of the animals, utensils and milkers’ hands etc.

The Animal 
The animal itself is one of the most significant sources of contamination, care and management of the animal and its health is therefore the starting point for clean milk production. Milk from diseased animals should be kept separate and disposed of safely. Animals suffering from any contagious disease, including mastitis, should be segregated from the healthy ones.

The skin of the animal provides a large surface for possible contamination. Long hairs on the flanks, hind legs, tail and udder should be clipped at frequent intervals. If washing of animals is not practised regularly as is observed in most cases, at least grooming of the animals should be done to keep the hair and dust away from milk. The udder is the part of the animal nearest to the milk and needs to be washed before each milking, and dried with a clean cloth or towel.

Milker and Milking Routine
In the case of hand milking, the danger of contamination coming from the milker is higher as compared with machine milking. The milker should therefore be free from contagious diseases. Nails should be well trimmed; she/he should wear clean clothes and should wash her/his hands with soap and water before milking, then dry with a clean towel.

A good milking routine prevents contamination of the milk. A consistent milking method at regular intervals, fast but gentle and complete milking, and sanitary methods during milking are all important aspects. Feeding roughage at the time of milking should be avoided. If the calves are suckling, the calf should be allowed to suckle at the beginning of the milking. The udders and teats should be washed and massaged for at least 30 seconds and dried prior to milking. Foremilk should be examined and abnormal milk should be discarded. The foremilk should not be allowed to run on the floor as this increases the danger of contamination. The milk should be drawn directly into the pail as fast as possible. The milker should not wipe their hands on the body of the animals or on their own body. 

After milking, the teats can be dipped or sprayed with a gentle antiseptic solution. The milking area should be thoroughly cleaned after each milking.

Milking Equipment
Dirty milking equipment is one of the main sources of infection of milk. About 15 minutes before milking, milking equipment should be rinsed with a sanitizing solution. In this way, dust and contamination will be removed. Milking equipment should also be thoroughly cleaned after use because any milk residues in the equipment will allow microorganisms to grow rapidly. The utensils and equipment used during milking should be of standard quality. They should be made up of acceptable, non-absorbent, corrosion-resistant material and should be easy to clean. The utensils and equipment should not have any joints or open seams and should be free from dents, rust etc. The milking utensils and equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitised after each milking. An acceptable, non-toxic and non-corrosive cleaning and bactericidal agent should be used for cleaning and sanitation.

After cleaning and sanitation, the utensils and equipment should be stored in such a manner and location to prevent contamination from flies, insects dust, dirt, rodents etc. They should preferably be stored in an inverted position off the ground to facilitate drainage of wash water. 

Storage and Transport
Before storage, it is best to filter the milk with a clean cloth in order to remove large particles that might have entered the milk. The cloth should be thoroughly cleaned after use and left to dry in the sun.

Heat, light and violent movement can all cause breakdown of certain components in the milk. Milk should therefore be cooled as quickly as possible. In case chilling is not feasible, preservatives like lactoperoxidase can be added to prolong the time before the milk gets spoiled (Discussion Paper 1.2 will deal with this issue). Milk should be stored in clean containers with a lid and kept in a cool and shady place where the danger of contamination is minimal. Milk should be transported in clean containers, transport time should be kept to an absolute minimum and violent movement of the milk should be avoided as milk fat can soon turn rancid in the presence of oxygen.

2. Economics of Clean Milk Production

When setting standards for clean milk production, it is important that the standards reflect the local conditions. If milk is boiled before use and consumed within hours of production, high capital investments to improve hygiene may not be an economic necessity. With an increasing time between milking and consumption, hygienic measures should improve. At the same time, with an increasing scale of farming, there is more room for investments in hygienic practises. The cost of clean milk production should not exceed the benefit of the farmers. Milk payments should be an incentive to improve the hygiene, and clean milk production should be financially rewarded.

3. Support Services Related to Clean Milk Production.

Milk Producers Organisations (MPOs) should provide “Support-Services” to increase clean milk production. An effective and well trained animal health service should be available at all times to look after the health of animals, arrangements should be made for regular vaccination and checking against contagious diseases by the qualified veterinarians. Veterinary first aid should be readily available around the clock at village level.

To avoid spoilage, milk collection centres should be set up at locations that are easily accessible to the producers. Milk producers organisations should have their own arrangements for milk processing, manufacturing of by-products and marketing to maximise returns to the producer.

In many developing countries, knowledge of hygiene is often not sufficient. One of the most important support-services regarding clean milk production is “Extension-Education”. The ultimate aim of this service should be to develop the awareness amongst the milk producers towards cleanliness of milk shed, clean milk production and animal health care. These services should be organised at the village level and main thrust should be given to empower the women members. 


Chamberlain, Milk Production in the Tropics.
Dairy India 1997
Dr JB Prajapati, Fundamentals of Dairy Microbiology
Indian Standard Code: For hygienic conditions for production, processing, transportation and distribution of milk.
NNDB: Milk procurement and Technical Input Manual
OP Sinha, Guidelines for establishment of milk producers organisations (in Indian context)
OP Sinha, Technical Report on Impact of Milk Producers organisations on rural development in India

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