Do farm audits improve milk quality?

A. Flores-Miyamoto, M.W. Reij, A.G.J. Velthuis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Milk quality is assessed using bulk milk analysis and by farm audits in the Netherlands. However, the extent of the effect that dairy farm audits have on milk quality is unknown. Data from over 13,000 audits performed on 12,855 dairy farms from February 2006 to April 2008 were merged with laboratory test results of 325,150 bulk milk samples collected 6 mo before and after the audit. A linear mixed model with the method of restricted maximum likelihood was conducted to study whether the total bacterial counts (TBC) of bulk milk were lower during the periods before and after the dairy farm audit. Results showed that TBC values were 2 to 6% lower (i.e., 0.010 to 0.026 log cfu/mL) for a period from 1.5 to at least 6 mo after an audit. Additionally, several variables were significantly associated with bulk milk TBC values: seasonality, total number of attention points (given if some checklist points were not appropriate), audit type, audit result, and the categories milking equipment maintenance, and utility room-tank maintenance. The TBC values increased with a higher level of attention points. Furthermore, the farms rejected based on the audit results had the highest average TBC values and the approved farms had the lowest values. If dairy farms had an overall negative audit assessment and consequently needed a re-audit in the following year, the TBC values of bulk milk were more likely to be higher. Auditing may provide dairy farmers the opportunity to receive advice about factors that influence bulk milk TBC values, for a period of at least 6 mo following the audit. Key words bulk milk; certification scheme; second-party audit; hygiene
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • bulk tank milk
  • total bacterial count
  • somatic-cell counts
  • product quality
  • risk-factors
  • food safety
  • level
  • contamination
  • mastitis
  • health


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