Small farm advocates continually claim that commercial dairy farms can’t produce as high a quality of milk than small farms.
The facts, however, don’t bear that out. In a University of Wisconsin Food Science Department study of more than 14,500 Wisconsin dairy farms, the larger the farm, the higher the milk quality based on standard plate counts (SPC) and somatic cell counts (SCC).
The small farms, those with less than 119 cows, had an average SPC of 58,700 cells/ml and an average SCC of 369,000 cells/ml. The maximum SCC on small farms was 625,000.
Large farms, those with 119 to 713 cows, had an average SPC of 36,300 and an average SCC of 273,000. The maximum SCC on large farms was 394,000.
Dairies classified as confined animal feeding operations, those with 714 or more cows, had an average SPC of 35,000 and an average SCC of 240,000. The maximum SCC on CAFOs was 313,000.
More detail on the Wisconsin milk quality study can be found here.