Butter fat content is a major component of milk. It is an indicator of nutritional quality, and one or the primary factors used to determine how much farmers are paid for raw milk. Fat is an important component of milk for cheese and yogurt production.
Protein content is a major component of milk. Similar to fat, protein is an indicator of nutritional quality, and a factor used to determine raw milk prices. Protein content can be used to determine feed ratios and cow health.
Somatic Cell Counts
Somatic cell counts are indicators of udder health. They are the industry standard for milk quality and used to diagnose mastitis. Somatic cell count is regulated by the industry. Raw milk over a certain threshold will be rejected by processors.
Fat to Protein Ratio
Fat to protein ratios are an indicator of nutritional health. They are used as indicators of nutritional disorders such as ketosis and acidosis. Farmers may also use them to evaluate feed quality, and when making important decisions about what they feed their herd.
Progesterone is a hormone that changes throughout the reproductive cycle of a cow. Changes in progesterone can indicate when a cow is ready to be bred, and whether or not a cow is pregnant. Reproduction is key to dairy production: cows that do not produce offspring do not produce milk.
Even trace amounts of antibiotics cause milk to be rejected by processors, as the milk cannot be used to make cheese or yogurt. Antibiotic contamination is not frequent, but it is a major area of concern for farmers and is heavily regulated. Every milk shipment is checked for antibiotics and positive truck loads will be instantly discarded.