Proper sampling is an important part of milk hauling

Care & Efficiency Matter When Measuring Milk Samples

More so than many other kinds of transport, milk hauling demands precision and accuracy in just about every facet of the job. One way in which this is evident is that milk transporters must be extremely careful and thorough in their cleaning and sanitizing procedures to prevent cross-contamination and other spoilage issues, but it’s also crucially important for them to be meticulous in all aspects of evaluating, sampling and measuring milk at their pickup sites, too.

For one thing, precision measuring minimizes waste, which means more milk can be sent for processing and sale, but careful measuring and testing is also important for maximizing the return to the farmer, since producers are paid based on the volume and quality of milk that they provide. That’s why well trained milk haulers must be able to maximize efficiency and accuracy when measuring milk.

So, how do they do it?

Reading the Calibration

Milk weights collected from each source are determined by the bulk milk hauler, using a graduated measuring rod. Proper determination of milk volumes is integral for preventing shortfall to either the producer or the processor, so the utmost care must be taken to measure and record milk volumes accurately at each pickup.

Pre-Measurement: Ensuring The Proper Set-Up:

Accurate measurement of samples depends on the milk in the tank being absolutely motionless. If the agitator is running when the milk hauler arrives, it must be turned off and the hauler must wait until the surface of the milk is motionless before measuring. In some cases, this could involve a wait of up to 10 minutes. Milk haulers should be alert to potential changes that could affect the accuracy of the stick’s measurement, including structural changes and/or unusual stick placement in the tank. Any evidence or suspicion of tampering should be reported. Before measuring, the hauler should also ensure that the serial number(s) on the stick and the Farm Holding Tank match the one(s) on the Farm Holding Tank Permit and calibration chart.

Reading The Calibration:

Read and record the line on the measuring stick that the milk touches. If the milk doesn’t touch a line, the milk hauler should use the following standards:

  • If the milk line is close to, but not exactly on a line, the measurement should be read as if it were on the nearest line.
  • If the milk line is exactly halfway between two lines, it should be read to the nearest even number.

After taking a reading, rest the measurement rod across the sink. Only return the rod to its holder, when the milk is pumped out, if the dairy producer instructs the driver to do so. If not, it should be left resting on the sink. Compare the measured volume to the reading from the previous day; if it differs by more than 1 inch, reread the stick. If the volume has changed drastically from the previous pickup, the driver should note the discrepancy and notify his or her supervisor.

Troubleshooting and Preventing Common Causes For Misreadings:

  • Foam around the stick can cause a false reading; it should be moved before measuring, if present, to ensure an accurate measure.
  • Always measure with a “hot” stick—one that has been heated with hot, running tap water and then wiped very thoroughly with a single-use paper towel. The heat from a “hot” stick melts butterfat particles to prevent condensation of moisture on the stick, which can produce a false reading.
  • If the hauler doesn’t get a straight, even line, the stick should be rinsed in hot water, dried and reread. Unclean or cool sticks, as well as agitated milk, can all cause misreadings.
  • Record results immediately after reading the stick to prevent errors due to misremembering measurements. If ever in doubt, the hauler should take a second reading. If there is a discrepancy, he or she should retest until a consistent result is achieved.

Many factors—from poor or inconsistent lighting to uncalibrated equipment—can cause a misreading from a bulk milk tank. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with a farm bulk tank of 800 gallons, even relatively minor mistakes in measurement can have a huge impact on the bottom line of either the farmer or the processor. That’s why it’s crucially important for milk haulers not only to be well trained, but also to be consistent, careful and accurate in every aspect of their measurements to prevent misreadings and to ensure fair compensation for everyone involved. 

Bob Carr

Bob Carr

Bob Carr has a long history with the Wadhams family and Wadhams Enterprises. He currently works as Director of Sales for ARG Trucking Corp, as well as for this milk hauling division, ETW.