Updated: Jan 13
By Nancy Boling, Springwater Dairy Goats
A lot of people are intimidated when they consider putting their herd on milk test for the first time, so I am hoping this article will help alleviate some of the confusion. I would like to go through some of the abbreviations and definitions first.
DHIA-Dairy Herd Improvement Association: the association that does milk tester training, holds meetings, and certifies scales.
DHIR-Dairy Herd Improvement Registry: the registry that your goats are registered with (ADGA, AGS, etc). They are responsible for giving milk stars and other awards. You can test any goat, even one that is not registered, but only registered goats will be eligible for these programs. DHIA/DHIR is often used interchangeably as a general term for milk testing.
DRPC-Dairy Records Processing Center: the place that calculates the raw data to give the totals for milk, fat, and protein for each test, as well as the overall lactation. Some of these use a computer program, and some are on paper.
CDCB- The Council of Dairy Cattle Breeding: they collect data from the DRPC and give it to the DHIR, as well as having an accessible database to goat breeders online. They also keep track of error reports. It is a good idea to make sure your data is up to date on their website and check there for errors regularly.
Milk Tester/Supervisor: A person trained by the DHIA to perform milk tests. They will weigh the milk and take the samples on test day. For owner-sampler, this is the herd owner. For everyone else, this can be anybody (friend, neighbor, etc) that is not related and does not have a monetary interest in the herd.
Group testing is a minimum of 3 goat owners who are trained to test each other. Reciprocal testing, where 2 owners test each other, is not allowed.
VT-Verification Test: a test in addition to or in place of a regular test. It requires 3 recorded milkings and they must each be supervised. If you have a regular tester, the verification test supervisor is only required to come for one milking (but they are allowed to test all 3 milkings if you wish). These may be required for certain awards.
STEPS FOR SIGNING UP FOR MILK TEST:
Step 1. The first thing to do is to find a DHIA. There is a list on the back page of this newsletter. Your DHIA will assign you a Herdcode which you will use for your laboratory and your DRCP, as well as the DHIR.
Step 2. Choose a lab and DRPC. Check with your DHIA to see if they are associated with any specific labs and/or processing centers.
Step 3. Sign your goats up to your registry of choice's DHIR.
Step 4. Decide which testing type/plan you are going to use. For ADGA, there is a list of each plan and the awards they qualify for in the ADGA Guidebook. Find a tester if you are using one or have your tester trained.
Step 5. Gather the supplies you need to test and have your scale certified. You will need sample bottles obtained from the lab, a small ladle/dipper (the ones used for salad dressing at restaurants are perfect), an accurate scale that measures in tenths of a pound (see chart below), a bucket to weigh with, and a marker. You will also need some kind of visible ID (see chart on page7 for some ideas), and if you are having a tester out, they will check tattoos on the first test. Nigerians also need to be measured for verification test, so it helps to have a measuring stick.
Step 6. Enter your herd's information with the DRPC. This is usually done on the first test with your supervisor. If you are doing Owner-sampler, it is a good idea to have an experienced person to help the first test.