Measuring Success

How do you Measure success regarding milk quality? Check out these key performance indicators for microbial quality bulk milk to see how your farm is performing.

Key performance indicators and sources of typical bacteria used to troubleshoot problems with bacteriological quality of raw bulk milk.



Standard Plate Count





Laboratory pasteurized count






Preliminary incubated count



Coliform count  

Types of Bacteria Detected

Quantifies most viable, aerobic bacteria found in milk



Theromduric bacteria (such as bacillus, clostridia etc.)





Psychotrophs (such as pseudomonas and others)


Colifrom bacteria (such as E. coli and Klebsiella)

Common Sources


Contamination during milking; problems with milk cooling; cleaning failures


Biofilm development on milking equipment as a result of cleaning failures; occasional problems with contamination


Contamination during milking; cooling problems


Contamination during milking, rarely mastitis

Suggested Goal


<10,000 cfu/ml





<200 cfu/ml







<10,000 cfu/ml




<100 cfu/ml

Other key performance indicators include:
• Qualitative bulk milk cultures
• Milking systems & performance
• Subclinical mastitisUW-Milk Quality promotes an integrated, team-based approach to best manage udder health and milk quality.  Producing high quality milk is not a one-person job.  It takes farmers and their local dairy advisors to be able to evaluate, manage and improve milk quality.At UW-Milk Quality, we develop tools and resources to help dairy producers meet their milk quality goals and increase farm profitability.For more information regarding milk quality, please visit UW-Milk Quality or contact UW-Extension Milk Quality Specialist Pam Ruegg.  For more information regarding milking systems, please visit UW Milking Research and Instruction Laboratory or contact UW-Extension Milking Systems Specialist Doug Reinemann

From: Ruegg, P.L. 2011. Managing Mastitis and Producing High Quality Milk. Chapter 18 in Dairy Cattle Production Medicine. C. Risco and P. Melendez, (editors), Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, LTD.


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