Who do I contact if my milk is not collected?
You should contact your milk processor immediately to find out why collection has not taken place, what plans for future collection will be and if they will allow you to add milk from an additional day/s.
What should I do with my uncollected milk?
In the case where milk cannot be collected from your farm, your milk should be stored in the bulk tank as normal, subject to the stipulations of your milk processor and hygiene requirements. If you need to empty the bulk tank the milk should be transferred from the bulk tank to an appropriate available slurry tank/s with sufficient capacity using transfer methods to avoid spillage. As milk is highly polluting you must exercise care with its storage and when you are spreading it to land (see advice below on diluting milk prior to spreading and reducing pollution risk). If you do not have sufficient capacity on your own farm check if any suitable storage space is available locally on other farms that you can avail of temporarily.
What happens if my slurry tanks are full?
You should try to source alternative storage off-farm. Details of the location, dimensions of the tank(s) and usage should be recorded. If you cannot find additional alternative storage, and you consider you have no alternative to land spreading should apply a slurry and milk mix to land using a risk based approach similar to that in the Nutrient Action Programme Regulations (NI) 2019. Your slurry/milk mix must be only spread on land which is considered to be of lowest risk of causing pollution.
Can I apply milk directly to land?
No. Waste milk, as required by the Waste Management Licensing Regulations, must be diluted with at least an equal quantity of water or slurry. You can only spread it on land where there is no significant risk of causing pollution. To do this you must carry out a risk assessment as detailed in the Nutrient Action Programme Regulations (NI) 2019 (NAP Regs) which considers factors such as predicted rainfall, slope, amount to be spread, proximity to a watercourse and soil cover. The maximum single application is no more than 50 cubic metres (tonnes) of diluted waste per hectare with no repeat applications within three weeks.
If ground and weather conditions were appropriate it may also be possible for the diluted milk to be put directly into a slurry tanker and applied to the land in accordance with the requirements of the Nutrient Action Programme (NAP) Regulations.
Should I dilute milk with water or slurry?
Milk diluted with water has the potential to flow quickly over land if the drainage is impeded or the water table is high. However if drainage is good then it will percolate into the soil and not cause a problem.
Milk diluted with slurry will be a bit thicker and less likely to run over land however, there is the potential for increased ammonia emissions leading to less nitrogen entering the soil and being available for the crop.
What happens if the weather conditions for spreading are unsuitable?
If the weather conditions are unsuitable for spreading you should store your milk in appropriate available slurry tanks with sufficient capacity using appropriate transfer methods to avoid spillage as milk is very highly polluting. If that is not possible and you consider that you have no other alternative you should spread only it on land where there is no significant risk of causing pollution. To do this you must carry out a risk assessment as detailed in the Nutrient Action Programme Regulations (NI) 2019 which considers factors such as predicted rainfall, slope, amount to be spread, proximity to a watercourse and soil cover an appropriate available slurry tank/s with sufficient capacity using appropriate transfer methods to avoid spillage as milk is very highly polluting.
How can I maximise my slurry storage?
• Maximise grazing were possible.
•Minimise the area of your farmyard where stock have access to so you have less slurry mixed with rainwater to collect and store.
•Keep the rest of your farm yard clean and divert clean water away from slurry storage tanks to maximise your storage capacity.
•Check the condition of gutters on your farm and ensure that roof water is directed to drains and away from your slurry tank
• Remove excess manure from your milking parlour before hosing down to reduce the amount of parlour washings entering the storage tanks.
• Ensure that you collect dirty water separately (dirty water is water lightly contaminated by organic manure, urine, effluent, milk and cleaning materials with a Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) of less than 2000mg per litre and a maximum of 0.5 kg of nitrogen (N) per cubic metre and 0.5% dry matter content). Dirty water can be applied throughout the year provided soil and weather conditions are suitable.
Will I be breached for spreading during unsuitable conditions?
Farmers must be able to demonstrate that they have taken all reasonable precautions and that they had no other option but to take this action.
Can I store milk in other containers?
If you intend the milk to enter the food chain do not attempt to store milk in anything other than cooled milk bulk tanks
Can I reduce the amount of milk being produced?
Aim to maintain dairy cow diets at their existing level if possible to ensure production is maintained after collection returns to normal. Examine the lowest producing cows in the herd to see if drying cows off early is a possibility where prolonged milk collection disruption occurs.
Reassess planned expenditure and contact your bank to discuss your circumstances.
How do I manage milk from reactor animals?
It is illegal to sell milk from TB reactors for human consumption. Therefore, it must be withheld from the bulk tank. It is also illegal to feed it to calves unless it has been sterilised (heated to boiling point or more). Such milk may be managed by:
a) disposing of it in the slurry tank, or
b) spreading on land for crops, silage or hay in accordance with NIEA guidelines. If milk can only be spread on grazing land, animals should not be grazed there for 12 weeks after spread.
The main route of transmission of M bovis infection from cattle to man is via the ingestion of infected milk. This is preventable through effective pasteurisation. It is generally recommended that untreated raw milk is not used at any time for human consumption, even for domestic use by a herd-keeper and his family, as there is always a risk of cows being infected with TB before being disclosed at a skin test or post mortem.
A BT95 notice and flier from the Food Safety Authority are issued to herd keepers at the start of each TB breakdown, detailing what should be done with reactor milk, and this may be referred to for further information.
How do I keep up to date?
Check the news section of the DAERA website on a regular basis