The objectives of this study were to identify control points for bacterial contamination of bovine colostrum during the harvesting and feeding processes, and to describe the effects of refrigeration and use of potassium sorbate preservative on bacteria counts in stored fresh colostrum. For objective 1, first-milking colostrum samples were collected aseptically directly from the mammary glands of 39 cows, from the milking bucket, and from the esophageal feeder tube. For objective 2, 15-mL aliquots of colostrum were collected from the milking bucket and allocated to 1 of 4 treatment groups: 1) refrigeration, 2) ambient temperature, 3) refrigeration with potassium sorbate preservative, and 4) ambient temperature with potassium sorbate preservative. Subsamples from each treatment group were collected after 24, 48, and 96 h of storage. All samples underwent bacteriological culture for total plate count and coliform count. Bacteria counts were generally low or zero in colostrum collected directly from the gland [mean (SD) log10 cfu/mLudder = 1.44 (1.45)]. However, significant bacterial contamination occurred during the harvest process [mean (SD) log10 cfu/mLbucket = 4.99 (1.95)]. No additional bacterial contamination occurred between the bucket and the esophageal feeder tube. Storing colostrum at warm ambient temperatures resulted in the most rapid increase in bacteria counts, followed by intermediate rates of growth in nonpreserved refrigerated samples or preserved samples stored at ambient temperature. The most effective treatment studied was the use of potassium sorbate preservative in refrigerated samples, for which total plate count and total coliform counts dropped significantly and then remained constant during the 96-h storage period.
- Bacterial contamination