NML handles bulk and individual cow milk samples. Bulk milk samples are collected primarily to facilitate statutory testing requirements set out by the Food Standards Agency, but they also undergo tests to determine constituents and quality.

This data is used by milk buyers for payment purposes in determining the farmer's monthly milk cheque.

Alongside these standard tests, a further range of tests can be carried out, which provides farmers and vets with information which can not only benefit herd health, but can add value to their businesses.

Karen Bond, veterinary advisor at NMR, says: "While the processor is the primary customer for our bulk milk testing, we can use the samples to meet specific testing needs from vets and farmers to assist with herd health management."

Both NML sites are in operation 22 hours a day, 365 days a year. They receive about 10,000 bulk milk samples every night, and up to 35,000 individual cow milk samples that have been collected as part of NMR's individual milk recording service.

They start arriving when the night shift begins at 9pm and are all in by midnight.

On arrival, the barcode on each bulk milk sample is scanned. Service level agreements with milk buyers determine frequency of testing and what the sample is tested for. All samples are kept for five days, so if there is a problem, historic samples can be checked.

Bulk milk test reports are available by 6am, at which time farmers are sent a text with the results. Any failures or problems are followed up with a phone call to confirm the farmer is aware and the milker buyers also notified.

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