Livestock and Poultry - 9.3 Milking Practices

Last updated on March 2, 2017

Pathogens may contaminate milk and proliferate during storage on-farm. Antibiotic residues can contaminate milk if treated animals are not properly identified and their milk not separated from the bulk tank.

9.3 Milking Practices


This good agricultural practice applies to all farms that milk for human consumption.

NOTE: Under federal law, all milk from all species must be pasteurized for sale for human consumption (Food and Drug Act (Canada), R.S. 1985).

What Needs to Be Done

Carry out proper sanitation before, during and after milking. Identify treated animals and milk them separately.

How to Do It

Develop Best Practices

  • Write detailed cleaning, sanitizing and milking practices.
  • Train workers responsible for milking based on the written practices.
  • Wear clean clothing; wash hands before, during and after milking; and wear gloves where necessary (for example, covering any cuts or wounds on hands). Provide hand washing facilities in the milk house.

Cleaning & Sanitizing Milking Equipment

  • Use only potable water to clean milking equipment and systems.
  • Have an up-to-date wash chart posted in the milk house that details hardness and pH of the milk house water and the appropriate concentrations for cleaning solutions.
  • Make sure the water temperature for the milk house is high enough to maintain the appropriate effectiveness for each cleaning cycle:


  • Do not recirculate the pre-rinse water through the milking system.
  • Check that all solutions have drained completely after each cycle.
  • Ensure the bulk tank is thoroughly cleaned after all milk has been transferred. Use the above steps for cleaning.
  • Check outlet valves, gaskets, inlet areas, receiver jar, pipe to bulk tank, and manhole cover for cleanliness. Replace the milk filter where necessary.
  • Periodically monitor milking systems:
    • Replace any rubber parts (e.g. liners, any gaskets, milk hoses or pulsator air lines) immediately if cracking or leaking is observed, or as per your equipment supplier’s recommendations.
    • Check the chemical injectors and timing of cycles for cleaning systems, check the pipeline for proper slugging action, check the slope for proper drainage and check the line for any air leaks.
    • Check the sanitary trap and line for any residue and clean when necessary.
    • Make sure the wash sink is free of rust, scale build-up and leaks.

Milking Practices

Develop written practices for milking animals on your operation. Consider posting these practices in the parlour or by the milking stand where animals are milked.

Check all animal health records to identify which animals have been treated recently and need to be milked separately. A temporary notice board of which animals have been treated can also help communicate to workers, which animals need to be milked separately.

Set up the milking system by:

  • Sanitizing all milking equipment,
  • Checking equipment (for example, bulk tank, receiver jar, hoses, pipes, milk units, liners) to verify cleanliness and make sure all sanitizing solution has been drained, and
  • Making sure the bulk tank cooler and agitator are on prior to milking. If the bulk tank is empty, start the cooler and agitator when the level of milk in the bulk tank reaches the bottom of the agitator paddle.

Check the udder for signs of clinical mastitis by:

  • Stripping milk from each teat into a cup to observe any signs of abnormality: stringiness, wateriness, clots or lumps, and presence of blood; and
  • Checking udders for swelling, hardness, heat, redness, evidence of pain, lumps, or a bluish color that is cold to the touch.

Perform proper udder preparation before attaching milking unit. Discuss proper techniques with a BCMAL’s Livestock Health Management & Regulation Unit representative, or follow these steps:

  1. Prepare fresh teat dip or udder wash solutions and clean, single-use towels for udder preparation. Use only potable water to mix teat dip or udder wash solutions in clean containers. Never pour unused solutions back into original containers.
  2. Dip each teat with a germicidal dip or sanitizing udder wash solution. Do not wash entire udder as it cannot be dried sufficiently and excess moisture will carry pathogens to the milking unit. Clean off very dirty teats before applying dip.
  3. Strip two to three squirts of milk from an individual teat into a designated, dark-coloured cup. If milk appears abnormal:
    • Identify the animal.
    • Milk separately from the rest or at the end.
    • Divert the milk from this animal away from the bulk tank and discard.
    • Clean and sanitize any milking equipment used on this animal before using on another.
    • Wash hands thoroughly during and after milking the animal.
  4. Dry the teats thoroughly with a single-use towel. Towels can be disposable or reusable cloth towels that have been thoroughly washed and dried before use. Using one towel on more than one animal can pass pathogens from one animal to another, resulting in additional mastitis cases.

Avoid excessive air admission into the milking unit while the vacuum is on, and do not let the teat cups fall to the floor.

Milk treated animals (for example, withdrawal period not passed, positive antibiotic residue test) last or separately into a bucket milker. Keep the milk separate from the bulk tank and discard. The method of identification of treated animals must be communicated to the workers who are milking so that any treated animals are not accidentally milked into the bulk tank.

Take immediate action if treated milk is accidentally mixed into the bulk tank:

  • Post a sign on the tank or hose port warning the hauler not to transfer the milk.
  • Contact BC Milk Marketing Board to notify of a possible residue.

Apply an appropriate post-dip solution to all teats after milking is complete.

Milk Storage

Regularly monitor the bulk tank for the following temperature requirements for milk storage:

  • Make sure the milk is cooled to 10°C (50°F) within the first hour of milking and 0-4°C (32-40°F) within 2 hours after milking. For subsequent milkings, make sure the blend temperature never goes above 10°C (50°F) and the milk is cooled to 0-4°C (32-40°F) within 1 hour after milking is finished.
  • In between milkings and until milk is picked up, make sure milk temperature is maintained at 0-4°C (32-40°F).
  • Record bulk tank temperatures.
  • Properly calibrate thermometers used to measure milk temperature.
  • Make sure the bulk tank cooling system is on and working properly and the agitator timer is set at appropriate intervals.

Records to Keep

  • Temperature monitoring record or your own record that includes:
    • Date/time,
    • Temperature, and
    • Initials.
  • Wash chart (usually supplied by equipment supplier).
  • Written practices for milking animals.

If You Need an Audit

Be prepared for the auditor to review:

  • Temperature monitoring records for milk storage,
  • Up-to-date sash charts, and
  • Written practices for milking animals.

Laws & Regulations that Apply