So what is Milk Testing?

Obtaining of milk records with or without a certified tester, for the purpose of herd management, proof of production and to help potential buyers know what they might expect from specific animals.

Reasons for Testing

Herd Management:

  1. Health of the herd may be obtained through accurate milk records
  2. Evaluating which specific herd animals and lineages perform to your milking specifications
  3. How can you improve your herd and animal production
  4. Comparing various herds
  5. Generational milk records


  1. As a bi-product of some forms of milk testing, various dairy goat registries and DHI organizations have utilized milk records to create lists such as Honor Roll, Top Ten Lists (registry lists for Top Ten goats in a specific year), Star Advanced registry titles attached to the goat name, etc.  These tools can be used to advertise as proof that your goats made a specific requirement for that registry’s/organization’s designated amounts.
  2. Registries and some organizations publicize their lists online, which can be a huge advertising tool.   Examples:
  • AGS Top Ten
  •  ADGA
  •  Other registries and organizations have records lists, but may not actually publicize the lists.

Proof of Production

Accurate timely records of what the goat produce

  1. Each herd owner devises their own system and times of testing/weighing their milk
  2. Herd owner devises their own recording system and graphing, however they choose to do their own records
  3. Herd owner decides if they want to only record milk weights, or if they also want to have their milk tested at the DHI Lab for component readings of each sample.
  • Advantages – depending on the frequency of this recording method, the amount of milk is actual milk produced by animal, rather than a formulated amount.  You can still obtain the butterfat, protein and somatic cell count, if you choose.  This is currently done at a DHI lab for $1.15/sample.
  • Disadvantages – there is no uniform standard operating procedures or standard for how to test.  Thus, comparison of different herd data is harder, as the standards/procedures will not be the same from herd to herd.  Also are the records being done accurately, or are they exaggerated or diminished?

Component testing through Official DHI Labs

  1. Listing of DHI Labs
  2. Components tested are Butterfat, Protein and Somatic Cell Count
  • Butterfat should be more than protein.  If it isn’t, it has been suggested that there may be a feed management problem.  Also there may be a problem with rumen acidosis.   Also is the milk condusive to making cheese, butter, soap and other productions?
  • Somatic Cell Count is the white (leukocyte) cell count in the milk, originating in the udder.  A high somatic cell count can indicate possible sub-clinical mastitis and other problems.  Some sources are:

Official records from registries and or Dairy Herd Improvement

  1. Performed by licensed testers
    • Testers may receive certification through various unofficial locations that are accepted by the labs/data processing centers
    • Testers may receive certification online through Langston University or California DHIA.  The Langston you-tube training is at: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4
    • Testers-to-be should contact their DHI Lab and DHI Processing center to find out which training is accepted by them.
  2. Dairy Herd Improvement testing uses the Uniform Operating Procedures
  3. Ensures testing of all herds is done the same and accurately.

Types of Testing

Personal Milk testing on the farm (described under Proof of Production)

One-Day, 30-Day, Butterfat, Long Term Registry Milk testing Programs

  1. One-Day (some registries with this testing are:
  • American Goat Society
  • American Dairy Goat Association
  • Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association
  1. 30-Day Testing
  2. Long Term Awards/Testing

Dairy Herd Improvement

  1. Many registries allow members to participate
    • Some of these registries are AGS, ADGA and NDGA
  2. One main purpose is herd management through specially formulated records
  3. Uses Uniform Operating Procedures, which strives to make all testing the same and thus the records are more comparable with each other. (Discussed in more detail later.)
  4. Scales must be calibrated yearly by an authorized person.  Scales must be accurate to the nearest 1/10 of a pound and use TARE (milk only) weight.
  5. All does who ever have kidded must be on DHI Testing.

So you want to be a Certified Tester?
(Sound complicated for tester or herd owner?  Its not really.  It will become easy very soon.  Not too much to the testing and herd owning part.)

  1. Participate in DHI accepted training.  Some locations are from:
    Langston University Part 1  Part 2 Part 3  Part 4
    California DHIA (contact Scott Taylor)
  2. Work with some experienced testers for a time, if you can
  3. Obtain your Tester Number from your DHI Lab’
  4. Obtain a copy of the Uniform Operating Procedures, and try to follow its principles:
  5. Have resources at hand such as:                         
  6. Know where to find the DHI or milk testing rules for the various organizations you will be testing a herd for and abide by those rules.  Not all registries have the same testing rules, even though they would have to abide by the same DHI test plans. Not all registries have the same rules for measurements and measurement devices, etc. Also many breeders want to obtain those milk titles on their stock like AR, *D or *M, +S, *S etc.  As a tester, you need to have a grasp as to where to obtain that info so that the herd has the opportunity to obtain those milk award titles.  If you don’t, then the herd owner might have good intentions, test on the Owner Sample DHI program and not be allowed to receive their AR award.  Some of the registry rules are at:

Herd Codes

AI     Alpine
CC     Sable
EN     Saanen
EX     Experimental
LN     La Mancha
ND     Nigerian Dwarf
NU     Nubian
OH     Oberhasli
PY     Pygmy
TO     Toggenburg
UG     Guernsey Goat
XX     Mixed
blank  Unknown