I have gotten a number of responses about 'risk factors'.
There are some patterns amongst them.
I think you'll find patterns in my risk factors, consistent thought processes.
Today I'll start on what I believe the major risk factors are. For us. Not others; us. Because ultimately, all I can do is here. I can suggest, I can influence, but I have found, others are going to do what they're going to do & justify it to themselves however they are. Walking bubbles of perfection; far too many of them.
I'm finding it interesting that not a single sanitarian has bothered/graced us/whatever any kind of response to risk factors. Funny how lazy they are. Relying on dogma; I wonder if you asked them just how well they could explain - well - anything - how much they've truly thought about any of it. Lazy thinking. Just rely on what someone else told you, then keep repeating it, maybe that will make it the truth. We shall see!
These are the top 5 risk factors I have identified. I will give my solutions to the risk factors that others have sent me; a lot of them are beyond themselves, things others need to do. I wish more would have focused on themselves and what they could do, not what everyone else needed to do, because they just aren't going to be able to do much about it. Like our healthcare. Sit around and bitch about how everyone else ought be doing something. There is no progress there until we take it unto ourselves and start with us. Folks, it is a habit, hard to establish but worth it.
Well, I am starting with us.
#1: Cows as carriers of pathogens and putting them out in the milk
a) I question the basis of the premise. With any of 'their' talk, WHAT cows are they talking about? Confinement, poor immune system, stressed animals. I want them to pony up the hard data that says any cow under any circumstance will shed pathogens in the milk at any time. That is ridiculous.
We're talking "Typhoid Mary" type of situation. Scary stuff. So let's even examine Typhoid Mary - a long long time ago, she spread it around a lot. Funny though, why isn't there thousands and thousands like her; if there were, why aren't we all dead. So: being a carrier without being ill is exceptionally rare. Have any of our sanitarians examined this, for relevance? Very very doubtful, as what they would find, in a healthy, not pushed herd, the probability of them being a carrier is very, very low. Fluke low; hit by lightening and less low. So even though it is number one on my list - it's there because of my perception in what is being said, this is the major 'cause' of potential outbreaks.
So, I reject the premise, but so what if I accept the premise. What can I do?
1. Healthy animals would have very reduced probability of cause. HOW much, is the debate. The enemies of family dairy farmers don't want you thinking about the probabilities; they throw up their hands and say it's just too risky, then refuse to talk or think about what that risk is, and how it compares to any other risk.
Healthy animals: As in track history. If you were looking for raw milk, what do you know about the track history of your farmer. The cows look fine today when I'm out there looking at them; with that, what would I really know (as an uneducated consumer) to know the difference. What would I look for? If they're standing around in crap and looking very miserable, that is obvious. I would hope any idiot could figure that out. But who is going to show you sick cows? Who is going to pull out the health records and SHOW you just how healthy their animals are?
And I'm going to have it confirmed by those in the know.
a) my veterinarians. They know healthy herds. They know good management. Early on in this whole 'thing', I had my vet out to look at our cows, giving each a thorough examination. Only thing she could find is feet need trimming (I agree).
b) my organic certifier. Some say, I don't need to be certified organic, I let my customers 'certify' me. Well, yes, that is great. But what sophistication are those 'certifiers'. I am here to tell you - you wouldn't have to be that smart to completely pull the wool over the eyes of 99.9% of consumers. Organic certifiers are professionals, and have ways of figuring out if you are cheating.
I for one WELCOME the scrutiny by professionals of what we are doing. Bring it on. Teach me something in fact.
I have a story about that from back in the Internet days. A person calls me, owner of the company to tell me how thrilled she was with tech support person x. "They stayed on the phone with her for hours solving this problem". Okay, thank you much. I checked into it. That poor person did not need to be on the phone for hours - my tech was under trained and put her through a whole bunch of unnecessary stuff when the solution was but a few moments of her and our time away. So I did NOT just sit and think, boy do I have great support, I examined further to REALLY give good support. That's the same type of thing we get with farms. What you SEE, what you are TOLD sounds really great. But who's going under the hood to find out what is really going on. That organic certifier is. The paperwork will show it. The rules insist on it. I like that a lot.
Regular non-organic dairies? Let me show you some "Grade A" dairies - in fact, I'm certain I will - because our DATCP Food Safety simply cannot allow a hell hole like our farm to be Grade A, when the truth is they know damn well that we beat out 95% of ALL Grade A dairies in the state. This is them using their power for evil, period. Well, we shall see about this, we really will, we'll get a clear view of the level of professionalism Food Safety shows, and what that coveted "Grade A" really means. Me thinks you'll want to throw the bums out and start fresh.
Back to the issue - cows carrying pathogens. Rebuke the idea that their is any reasonable evidence anywhere to show that healthy - long term healthy - cows, not as they stand right this minute, but long term healthy cows - do not carry pathogens and shed them.
What can cause them to shed pathogens, presumably? Situations - generally of stress - where their immune systems are lowered or otherwise taxed. For a cow - directly after she's fresh for that first month or so is a stressful time. Any environmental stress, or herd stress. Solution? Minimize the stress; strong immune systems (as shown through long term health) and the possibility of testing during these stressful times. Test randomly all the time? Silliness. It will be suggested, and the purpose won't be to find solutions, it will be to drain the farmer of money to make the milk more expensive. It will solve no problems. You will find that absolutely consistent amongst our sanitarians, especially as is concerned with raw milk. Bleed the farmer to death. FDA has tried that with Mark McAffee at Organic Pastures. They will try it with us.
I would propose:
1. establish just what probability there is that any given proven healthy over time cow will carry and shed pathogens. That is study. What we'll find though, from our University, is a complete lack of interest in this study. Alright, then let's take a closer look at what they are interested in studying, and who that benefits. Look - very - closely. Maybe not just their leader ought go to the dairy industry. Maybe the whole lot of them should work for the dairy industry, since they are already and we are paying for them to do so and have this lack of curiosity about anything WE the PEOPLE care about.
2. Assuming there is some kind of reasonable probability and circumstances, when should testing be done. Most likely in times of stress. Post-fresh would be the best time. I would look at ways to put milk samples together over time and test them to get the highest probability of finding any pathogen. Not just on one particular day. A sensible testing protocol with the highest probability of finding a problem with reasonable certainty.
3. Establish just what is considered a healthy cow. Today? This week? This year? Our calves, for example, have never been sick a day in their lives. Our very first, born here on the farm, has now come into the milk line. NEVER - BEEN - SICK - A - DAY in it's LIFE. Someone explain to me how it is reasonable to believe that cow would shed pathogens. That's right, it is not reasonable one bit. So we won't have a conversation with our sanitarians about that, now will we?
Major risk factor #2: "crap in the milk" - I will talk about that next time.
Notice a pattern from my side - and 'their' side. We are about solutions and sense. They are about fear and 'can't get their from here'. Would you hire any of these people for a job? "Can't be done" is what they say. Ahh, you will make a great little worker there, won't you? Nope, they sure wouldn't. Chances are if they weren't working where they were, they'd do what? Dig ditches? The ground is simply too hard, not worth even sticking the shovel in there. Ahh. That's the kind of Food Safety people we have. Real beauts.
PROUD Wisconsin Dairyman - Scott Trautman