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Minn. dairy farmers recognized for dairy cow care

ST. PAUL -- In honor of June Dairy Month, Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson has released the annual list of 100 Minnesota dairy farms demonstrating superior dairy herd management skills as measured by their cows' low somatic cell count average.

Somatic cell count is a key indicator of milk quality -- lower is better. Although somatic cells occur naturally and are not a food-safety concern, dairy farmers and processors monitor them because milk with a high somatic cell count is less efficient for producing cheese. Milk with a low somatic cell count also has a longer shelf life. Processors pay premiums for milk with low counts, and a farmer whose herd has a very low count can receive significantly more per hundredweight compared to a farmer whose herd average is high.

Commissioner Frederickson said producers on the top 100 list excel at long-term herd management.

Kandiyohi County producers on the list include Marshall and Melanie Korn, Atwater; Daniel Hallberg, Kandiyohi; and Beckman Farms, Pennock. Duckwitz Farm Partnership, of Holloway in Swift County, is also on the list.

"These farmers do a great job following best-management practices in caring for their dairy cows and the result is high-quality milk with low somatic cell counts," Frederickson said. "The Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the University of Minnesota have been working with the state's dairy farmers for years to reduce somatic cell counts and that long-term effort is paying off."

The farmers making the top 100 list will receive a certificate of congratulations signed by Commissioner Frederickson.