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Helpful Hints For Successful Pasteurization

Time pasteurization so that it happens as quickly as possible after harvest of the milk or colostrum. If pasteurization is not going to be started for more than a couple of hours, it will be important to first cool the milk or colostrum so that spoilage and pathogenic bacteria do not multiply in the product.

Time & Temp For Proper Pasteurization

  • Colostrum 140°F (60°C)/ 60 minutes

  • Milk 145°F(63°C)/30 minutes or 161°F(72°C)/30 seconds

These are the research recommended combinations but we recommend always using the colostrum settings to protect the small amount of immunoglobulin that is in normal milk everyday.


Will I harm immunoglobulins if I pasteurize colostrum?

NO. When done properly colostrum can be successfully pasteurized to eliminate the same pathogens that can be found in the milk. These pathogens are even more dangerous in colostrum since these bacteria and viruses can easily pass through the gut wall along with the large proteins that impart immunity to the calf. Colostrum can be safely pasteurized at 140F for 60 minutes to remove all pathogens without significant damage to immunoglobulins. Colostrum pasteurization should be as much a part of herd biosecurity as milk pasteurization.


Will I need to add anything to the milk after it has been pasteurized? 

Not Usually. There are certain vitamins that are heat sensitive and may be decreased in concentration due to the pasteurization process but to our knowledge, no cases of deficiency or hypovitaminosis have been attributed to proper pasteurization. There may be circumstances due to regional or farm-specific conditions that would dictate supplementation of vitamins, minerals or even added fat/protein. Always check with your local veterinarian if there are such suspicions and treat according to their instructions.


What if the milk becomes spoiled before I pasteurize it? 

This condition is fairly common and can happen at times even when the same successful routines have been followed. There are spoilage bacteria in milk and colostrum that release acid as their by-products. This is usually lactic acid but there are also others. The release of acid from these proliferating bacteria then drives down the pH of the milk making it more acidic. Once the product is pasteurized it is safe for the calves to drink, but this can lead to rancid odors and flavors that might decrease consumption by the calves. Digestibility might also be different which can lead to scours. In cases of severe drop in pH, the milk will separate completely with a very thick layer of “cheese” on top or thick like pudding throughout the product. This is not due to overheating, it is due to the fact that protein denaturation and separation is made worse by the added heat of the pasteurization process. Heat combined with spoiled milk of low pH is a bad recipe which is why we recommend that you always try to pasteurize as soon as possible after harvest.


What is the optimal routine for handling milk? 

We recommend that milk and colostrum be pasteurized immediately after harvest and then either fed at once or cleanly transferred to a refrigerated holding vessel. The milk can then be warmed to body temperature prior to feeding.


Are there ways to preserve the milk or colostrum if refrigeration is not an option? 

Yes. Potassium sorbate and other preservatives can be added to milk or colostrum that is already pasteurized and this will help to prevent the growth of any remaining bacteria in the product. It is important to note that K-sorbate will not kill existing bacteria but will prevent any new growth. Do not add it prior to pasteurization as it will cause a lower pH and the symptoms described above including thickened or separated product and bad flavors.





Do I need to add milk extenders when using waste milk on the dairy? 

This will depend on the fluctuations in the milk supply. It is best to test the total solids of the waste milk to see what the average looks like over a one week period. If total milk solids are too low you may want to discuss with your veterinarian whether to add an additional feeding or add more solids in the form of powder to your waste milk. Our recommendation is 3 feedings per day of quality pasteurized whole milk.