I hope your holiday season is merry and bright! I encourage you to get out in your communities and go to Christmas parades, craft shows, and light displays. There’s alot of beauty to take in during this time of year!
Among the things at the top of Walmart list for the dairy farm I work at is something you might not expect: red duct tape.
What’s the red duct tape for? The cows that have been treated with antibiotics or other medications, and, for food supply safety, this is the indicator that the cow’s milk cannot be milked into the bulk tank until the withdrawal time is up. Dairy farms may have different ways to indicate cows that are being treated, the red duct tape is just how the farm I work at personally does this.
Why is this so important? Because it ensures food safety. Let me tell you a little story from a few weeks ago.
A group of cows got out of their pen during the day at the dairy. A cow that had the red band had accidentally gotten into the herd of milk cows. She got brought into the milking parlor with a group and we attached the milkers as per usual. A few minutes into the milking of that group and there is a loud shout from my boss. None of the 3 of us had paid attention and attached the milker to the cow with the red band – thus, her milk was being put into the bulk tank.
There was a flurry of motion as the milkers were shut off and the spigot was opened on the tank to let some milk out, and much frantic discussion as to what was going to be done. Why? Because if the milk in the tank was tested to be above a certain of level of antibiotics/medication, the WHOLE tank would have to be dumped. This folks, means that is literally money down the drain for this family. This is why your milk is safe – because if the milk does not meet regulations, it gets discarded and the families that rely on that milk check for their living lose their money. Dairy families have blood, sweat, heart, and tears into their farms. If the farm does not make a profit, the family loses their means of living. It was heartbreaking to watch.
The family I work for had to take a sample of milk from the tank and take it to their cooperative representative that very night to have the milk tested. Luckily, the milk passed and all was well.
I hope for everyone’s well being this holiday season and take a second to remember the dairy families that put their money and livelihoods on the line for your morning glass of milk is safe and healthy.