A CLEAN shed is a must at Noel and Barbara Tonkin's dairy farm.
Everything in their 18-a-side swing-over herringbone dairy - from the stainless-steel on the milking machine cups to the claws and dairy splash rail - is washed after milking.
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"If you are going to work in an environment where you sell produce to the public ... you should have a clean environment," Noel said.
The couple supply Longwarry Food Park and milk 200 seasonal-calving Holsteins.
Fed an average 4kg of grain in the bail each day, the herd averages between 5700 and 6000 litres per cow per year.
Other than a spotless dairy, Noel said it was hard to "pin point" a particular practice which kept the Poowong couple's herd producing milk with an average bulk milk cell count of about 60,000 cells/ml.
Up to five years ago Noel said the herd consistently returned counts of between 130,000 and 140,000 cells/ml.
Since then the Tonkins have changed their dry cow treatment and now blanket dry cow with a product called Cepravin on the advice of their vet.
Every cow in the herd is treated on the same day, so they all go out of the dairy at once.
At the same time the Tonkins swapped to Cepravin they also changed their teat spray.
Noel said they used to mix their own teat spray and now they buy-in a "ready to use" treatment.
After every milking, cows teats are "saturated" with teat spray.
While Noel said he "didn't know why" the herd cell count had dropped during the time, he and Barbara now have a milk quality award to prove that their actions have worked.
In the dairy, all rubber-ware gets changed twice a year.
At calving, all animals calve on a pad and are then bought into the dairy.
Noel works hard to avoid the possible spread of infection which is why he believes in not touching cows teats unnecessarily.
"We don't touch cows teats until they are in the shed," Noel said.
"We then spray them with teat spray and strip them to see if there is anything (mastitis) there."
Cows teats are only washed if they are dirty before milking machines are attached.
While he was happy to receive a milk quality award, Noel said the one thing he really wanted was "a better milk price."
"So we don't have to borrow to survive," he said.
"A milk price we can survive on and pay bills without having to ask the bank to extend the overdraft."