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How to Test Your Raw Milk

Free training so you can be confident your raw milk is priced for profit:

milk test video 1Here it is!

In the video below I break down the process I use to test my cow’s milk.  (my way is not the ONLY way, yet it has worked for me for 10 years so I keep at it.)

First, though – if you think you can’t afford to test, then you need to take a close look at your pricing strategy.

I’ve given you mine for free so you can compare what you’re doing and make sure you’ve priced your milk strategically (rather than randomly).

Tune in to this episode, part 1 of 3 on how to price for profit:

#009 How to Price Your Farm Products for Profit (Part 1)

I have very strong opinions on raw milk testing –

I believe it is the moral and ethical obligation of every single raw milk producer to test your milk once a month at the very least.  It should be a mandatory part of your self-regulation and risk reduction plan.  So there’s my 2 cents!

In the video I talk about how to sample and send it to a certified lab overnight shipping, or how to sample and take it to your local vet. Both work. It costs me about $55 to test once a month – that includes shipping and the cooled box plus the lab charges.  If you think you can’t afford the money to test then you aren’t charging enough for your milk.  Your customers would gladly pay you more for milk in order for you to be able to test it.

If you’re still worried about increasing your price then you need to take my marketing classes and join our Private Facebook Group, too.  

Testing must be a part of every raw milk dairy.

The tests you’re looking for the lab to perform are the coliform count and a standard plate count.  There’s no reason to run any pathogen tests unless your coliforms are way out of whack.  Your coliforms are an indicator of pathogens possibly being present, so if they are within the desired range you’re good.

Pathogen testing is much more expensive – about $75 per pathogen, so a coliform test is a much more reasonable alternative and a low number is an indicator of lack of pathogens.

The desired range for a coliform count is about 25 or fewer,  and desired range for standard plate count is fewer then 15,000.

My test results are much, much lower then the recommended –– it’s possible to produce clean, safe raw milk every single time you milk by following basic safety procedures.  Once you have this monthly check in place you will find your milk quality is far more consistent.

Transparency helps you stay on top of your game. 

As part of our reduced risk and safety plan, I try to be very transparent and post my test results on my website.  I now have 6 years worth of excellent test results which is a great marketing tool – – my customers appreciate my transparency and so will yours.

Check out the video by clicking on the picture below and please leave your comment in the section below the video – tell me about your testing experience, or, when you will perform your first test.  Your comments help inspire this wonderful world-wide community of raw milk producers we have here!

All my best,



PS: Make sure you’ve taken our free email marketing training and joined our free Private Facebook Group for farmers.


shipping boxes I use:

{ 32 comments… add one }
  • Salvador Rubio July 2, 2015, 4:57 pm

    Thank you for your time, advices and for sharing the knowledge. This is highly enlightening. LBWHomestead

  • Kathy July 2, 2015, 7:31 pm

    Excellent video. I already test and your directions are clear and concise. Also great that you include the link to purchase the mailing supplies. Yea!

  • Shawna Barr July 3, 2015, 2:28 am

    Charlotte…you’ve outdone yourself once again. How can I even begin to say THANK YOU for this video! Fabulous. I too answer this question over and over again, and you have made it absolutely simple and doable for any farm of any size. You are the best, and truly such a generous heart. I love that you don’t mince words about milk testing and I totally agree…it is a moral and ethical obligation. Thanks again!

  • Toni Brock July 3, 2015, 5:41 am

    Wonderful video. Very clear and informative. Thank you for putting it together.

    • Charlotte Smith July 3, 2015, 2:06 pm

      Thank you, Toni!! Hope you’re staying cool thru all this heat!!

  • Kirsten July 7, 2015, 2:19 pm

    Thank you for this video. By showing us ‘your way’, You’ve taken away that ‘milk-testing intimidation’ that many of us face. I know I grately appreciate this knowledge!
    My questions are, which tests do you recommend for establishing a safe base line? As well as, which tests do you recommend doing on a monthly basis?
    Thanks again.

    • Charlotte Smith July 8, 2015, 10:53 pm

      Hi Kirsten – on the blog post it says the test I do and recommended numbers so be sure to check it out . It’s a standard plate count and a coliform count.

      Thank you so much for your encouragement!


  • Peggy June 10, 2016, 6:49 pm

    Awesome video. I believe wholeheartedly what Charlotte is saying about ethically we need to test our milk.

    One way to test for somatic cell count (white blood cell) is to get onto Dairy Herd Improvement milk testing, or you can simply pay (currently) $1.15 at any Dairy Herd Improvement lab to get your milk tested for butterfat, protein and somatic cell count. If your butterfat is higher than your protein, then you have a pretty good guess that your nutrition is right on… thus your feeding program is a good one. If they are flip flopped, then you have a problem with your feeding program. High somatic cell count could mean possibility of udder infection or mastitis or something of that sort. To find a DHI lab:

    You can also purchase your own inexpensive test incubator and pre-specially made plates to test your own milk. Here one dairy lady talks about where she bought her system.

    I want to start with trying my veterinarian. Charlotte, I didn’t know that vets can test the milk. I know they can test for mastitis. Speaking of mastitis, there are inexpensive mastitis test strips that one can get to test our own milk.

    Charlotte, this is such powerful and awesome info you have shared with us. Thanks so much! I also hope to get on your training.

    • Charlotte June 10, 2016, 7:10 pm

      Hi Peggy – thanks so much for commenting!!!

      Some vets will test your milk – not all though. Just check with yours to see. And usually they aren’t certified so if you’re testing for some 3rd party certification or membersip, you’ll need to use a certified lab. But for a quick check in on some high numbers mine will work great!

      I’m grateful to you for reading and sharing!!


    • dusty November 7, 2016, 3:18 pm

      You can also purchase a cow side SCC test that works a treat!

  • Cynthia Kelly April 26, 2017, 1:12 pm

    What are they testing for? Does the test have a specific name I should ask for? Thank you

  • Chros cleven February 8, 2018, 5:16 pm

    So had a question about testing. We are new to raw milk production. I have recently completed lab testing. $30 for a 4 pane test at the local college lab. Ecology was 0, salmonella was 0, Coloform was 0 and SPC was 6500. How does that rate in terms of good vs bad.

  • Nicole February 20, 2018, 2:00 pm

    Why did you ever stop using your local vet to test your milk? That sounds much more convenient than shipping the sample. Is the lab’s test more thorough?

    • Charlotte February 26, 2018, 6:53 pm

      I have to use a certified lab and my local vet is not that. So I wish I could, and I do in emergencies, but not on a regular basis.

  • Marissa Schaefer November 2, 2018, 5:26 am

    I am trying to find a lab to test our milk, but cannot find one that offers standard plate count. Just aerobic plate count or anaerobic. Are those the same thing? Thank you.

    • Charlotte November 3, 2018, 8:37 am

      Hi, Marissa –

      I’d recommend you call Udder Health Systems – they can educate you on all this and perhaps help you find a local lab.



  • Kortney February 4, 2019, 7:58 am

    Thank you for this information! I am fortunate to live in Idaho and have an Udder Health Systems in my backyard. However, the submission form is confusing on which tests I need to select. SPC, SCC and coliform are required by the state of Idaho. Would you mind emailing me a photo of the tests you select and where they are located on the submission form? Thank you!

    • Charlotte February 4, 2019, 10:19 am

      Hi, Kortney – thanks so much for reading & commenting!

      You’ll want to call Udder Health Systems – they will walk you through exactly what you need to do. They’re super helpful.

      Thanks much and good luck!


  • DH May 2, 2019, 2:35 pm

    “There’s no reason to run any pathogen tests unless your coliforms are way out of whack.”

    What pathogens should be considered if CC is “out of whack”?

    • Charlotte May 2, 2019, 5:03 pm

      Hey, Dustin – work with your lab to figure this out but eColi is probably the first one, Listeria, Campylobacter and Salmonella are the other common ones. But again, your lab will advise you on which to perform. We use Udder Health Systems and they’re very helpful.

  • Evone September 5, 2019, 5:24 am

    I was thinking that you would place the different cow milk into different containers. what if it came back with something wrong? How would you know wich cow it canme from? Just a little confused…

    • Charlotte September 8, 2019, 10:49 am

      It would be too labor-intensive and cost-prohibitive for us to separate each cow’s milk. You must have just a couple cows? Just test each cow if the mixed batch has something in it.

      The more experienced you get, you’ll learn to identify symptoms and therefore know which cow it is before it ever shows up in a test.

      Good luck!


  • Evone September 5, 2019, 5:26 am

    oops sorry for all the misspelled words in first post I was in a hurry:(

  • Renee July 18, 2020, 9:08 am

    Do these same tests need to be performed on goats or is this cow specific testing?

    • Renee July 18, 2020, 9:12 am

      Also, we are not a business. Will UHS test for home use or just businesses?

      • Charlotte July 18, 2020, 12:33 pm

        Yes for sure it works for home use 🙂

    • Charlotte July 18, 2020, 12:33 pm

      Reach out to UHS for the differences between cows & goat testing. xo

      • Renee July 21, 2020, 3:12 pm

        Thank you!

  • Nicole Thomas October 11, 2020, 12:56 am

    It’s very good content for how to test the raw milk.
    We use some rapid test kit for check the raw milk

    • Jennifer October 26, 2020, 9:27 am

      Hi, does the ballyabio test for coliforms?

      • Charlotte October 27, 2020, 6:40 am

        You’ll want to check with them 🙂

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