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Development of HW and SW solutions for milk traceability
Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org
Citation: Computers in Agriculture and Natural Resources, 4th World Congress Conference, Proceedings of the 24-26 July 2006 (Orlando, Florida USA) Publication Date 24 July 2006 701P0606.(doi:10.13031/2013.21920)
Authors: Francesco Maria Tangorra, Mauro Zaninelli, Claudia De Santis
Keywords: Milk traceability, mobile milking unit, milk production, electrical conductivity
Fontina cheese is a DOP (Designation of Protected Origin) cheese produced in Aosta Valley
(Western Alps, North Italy) by dairy farms and cheese factories members of Fontina Cheese Producers
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Since 2003 Fontina Consortium has developed an identification and branding system to trace the cheese
from the factories to the consumers, but till now no operative instruments have been developed for the
traceability of the milk produced by the farms members of the Consortium. This lack is mainly due to the
traditional dairy cattle breeding system of Aosta Valley that is based on small family-operated dairy farms
characterized by a low technological level. In these farms cows are housed in stall barns during winter,
while in spring and summer livestock are herded to upland pastures located at the highest elevations (up to
2300 m a.s.l.). The average number of lactating cows is lower than 20 and they are milked by mobile
milking units, bucket or pipeline milking systems.
Following the European Union Regulation (EC Reg. 178/2002), a traceability system of the milk was
developed for the dairy farms located in mountain areas.
The project has been articulated in three sequential phases:
development of a database model (Entity and Relationship model) to identify all the farm data
(livestock treatments, feed registration, external foodstuff records, etc) required and useful to
trace the milk yield;
implementation of the database model by a user friendly software application to simplify the
storage and the management of all the farm data;
development of a special mobile milking unit to record milking data (cows production and milk
electric conductivity). The mobile milking unit was equipped with: a RFID antenna to identify
the cows by transponders (ruminal bolus); a mastitis detection device, based on the measurement
of the milk electrical conductivity, to monitor the quality of the milk produced by each cow; a
milk meter to measure the milk yield of each cow; a palm PC with a customized software
application to record milking data and then transfer them to the farm database.
Presently a field test of the developed system is in progress in a farm in Aosta Valley. Preliminary
results showed a fairly good effectiveness of the system in tracing milk production from the stable to the
dairy factory nailing the traceability system implemented by Fontina Consortium.