There are three ways to “test” for subclinical mastitis at home. [If you suspect subclinical mastitis, you may want to keep the milk from the house supply, it is safe to give to your chickens, dogs, cats, etc.]
1. Milk the doe, keeping her milk separate from the others, strain the milk, chill quickly and then allow to sit untouched in your refrigerator for several days. Make sure your refrigerator is keeping your milk cold enough. A direct quote from Organic Pastures “It is essential to remember that raw milk only tastes fresh if it is kept asleep, that means cold at about 35-38 degrees.” Organic Pastures sells cow’s milk, but this is good information for those of us using goat’s milk.
If the doe has subclinical mastitis, the milk will begin to go “off” by the 4th or 5th day. If I’m doing this test, I usually milk each side of the udder into separate containers to test both sides. If the milk is still good to 7 to 10 days, it is almost certain there is no mastitis involved. Reason being if your doe has subclinical mastitis, she has an infection in her udder, which is sloughing bacteria into the milk. An overabundance of the wrong kind of bacteria will produce an “off” or bad tasting milk. If there are no signs of mastitis in your does, but your milk goes off by 4-5 days, consider that your refrigerator is not keeping the milk cold enough.
2. Another test is to let the milk sit at room temperature for 48 hours, then examine the bottom of the jar. If there is sediment, that could mean subclinical mastitis. It is a good idea to test a healthy sample of milk as well as the suspected milk, for comparison.
3. Finally, a really good way to home test your doe’s milk is to try making buttermilk. Purchase a quart of store bought buttermilk. Place one cup of the doe’s milk in a jar, and add 2 Tablespoons of buttermilk to that. Mix well. Now, let it sit on the counter at room temperature for 24 hours. After twenty four hours, you should have fresh smelling, delicious buttermilk. The texture will be thick and creamy. If instead, you have something that seems slimy, you more than likely have a problem with bacteria – meaning that your doe has subclinical mastitis. (Although it could just be your milking practices are not clean enough and you are ending up with a lot of bacteria in your milk from the milking process).
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