A study of Village Milking Centre in China
Abstract: The aim of the study was to compile and evaluate Village Milking Centre (VMC) in China for DeLaval. VMC is a centre provided with milking machines and bulk milk coolers. Local farmers bring their cows to the VMC two to three times per day. Earlier there was Milk Collecting Centres (MCC) where the farmers delivered the milk. The first VMC was instituted about ten years ago, it has been a rapid development of VMC and today there are more than 3000. The last 20 years the dairy production in China has experienced a large change. In the past it was dominated by state-owned dairy operations. Year 2000 smallholder dairy farms accounted for about 77% of the total number of dairy cows. Dairy production is a labour-consuming industry and it has an important role for the rural development and more and more farmers are interested in dairy cows. The reason for the fast development of the dairy industry in China is that the government have put emphasises on the dairy production and they have implemented promotional programmes for milk consumption. One programme is the "School milk" programme which is targeted at more than 400 million children and teenagers. Many children and teenagers in China have deficiency of protein and calcium. The school milk programme have resulted in that the nutritional condition of the students and pupils have improved. An interview study was made with the help of prepared questionnaires. Together with a translator and DeLaval servicemen 16 VMC were visited, 16 managers/owners and 67 farmers were interviewed. Two dairy processors were visited and five DeLaval servicemen interviewed. Except for the questionnaires a "check list" about things that should be studied was used. Milk samples for analyses of milk somatic cell count (SCC) were taken at every VMC. A camera for documentation was also brought to all VMCs. All VMCs participating in this study was established between 1999 and 2004. The number of households for each VMC ranged between 20 and 300 with an average of 77. Positive things with the VMCs were that the farmers had got less work and better economy. There are many new farmers that want to test dairy production because of a more safe income and investment in dairy cattle seems to be a good business. Because VMC and dairy industry in China still is in its beginning it is defective and there are several steps that need to be done to secure a safe milk quality, especially if the milk consumption will continue to increase. The hygiene and the service of the milking machines were deficient at all the places visited. The average SCC for the bulk tank milk for all VMCs was 1 455 000/ml and that indicates that the udder health was very poor for a major part of the cows. For all of the parts that in one way or another are involved in the milk production there are insufficient knowledge about dairy production, which indicates that education about milk production is needed. Very few of the managers/owner to the VMC have had dairy cows themselves and they saw the VMC as a business where they have too keep all costs as low as possible, in many cases they didn't buy detergents, spare parts and so on. In the long run this will give problem with the milk quality. The dairy production needs a quality payment system where the farmers will earn more money if they manage to produce milk of good quality. When the study was made most of the managers/owners and the farmers were paid according to milk yield.
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