Protecting Dairy Processing Plants from Pests

Pest Management Solutions for Your Business

Did you know California is the largest dairy producing state in the United States? The Golden State produces about 21 percent of the nation’s milk and cheese. Wisconsin and Idaho are right behind.

With two of the three top dairy producing states located in Sprague’s service footprint, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we partner with leading dairy processors to protect their facilities and the array of products they produce from harmful pests.

Why Are Pests Attracted to Dairy Processors?

Dairy processing plants attract pests since they offer an abundant supply of desirable food and moisture. These plants can operate both wet and dry processing operations, both of which generate food and food waste that is attractive to pests.

Sprague Regional Entomologist Dan Scott, B.C.E., said milk is an all-in-one food source for pests providing proteins, fat, sugar and liquid.

“Spillage of dairy products during the loading and unloading process is quite common and that can draw a crowd of pests as a result,” said Scott.

The pests most encountered in dairy processing facilities include:

  • Rodents – Roof rats especially up and down the San Joaquin Valley in California
  • House and other large flies
  • Cockroaches including American, German and Turkestan
  • Birds including house sparrows, starlings and pigeons
  • Warehouse beetles if the facility produces or stores dry milk products

The hazardous pathogens some of these pests carry – particularly flies and cockroaches – present a serious health risk to consumers.

“If pests were to gain access to production or storage areas in a dairy processing plant, they can easily transfer harmful bacteria that can trigger food-borne illnesses,” said Scott. “Not only would consumers be at risk but the financial costs of a product recall or closing of a production line to remediate the issue would be significant to the processor.”

The Strange Case of the American Cockroach

Scott recently visited a dry milk processing facility that was experiencing an issue with American cockroaches in a dry powder storage area. Scott and Sprague consultant Jeff Weier, B.C.E., looked high and low to identify the root cause of the infestation.

After interviewing the facility staff and conducting an extensive inspection Scott noticed a water stain on the ceiling 20 ft. above the floor. The facility manager said the leak causing the stain would come and go. Upon further inspection a small roof leak was discovered that was allowing moisture to collect in the wall void. This created an ideal harborage for the American cockroaches who need moisture to survive.

“The actual leak was above the wall void and since it was hidden from view it was not apparent to anyone except for the water stain,” said Scott. “The cockroaches were entering the building from the roof and accessing the dry storage area.”

The leak was sealed, and excess moisture and cockroaches removed.

Pest Prevention Tips for Dairy Processors

The fine powder produced in dry milk processing and storage facilities attracts stored product pests, especially warehouse beetles. Once these hard-to-see invaders – they are 1/8 to 3/16 inch in length – gain access to a facility, they are hard to eradicate.

“The powder will find its way into HVAC conduits, electrical control boxes, lighting elements and on exposed beams and rafters, and will attract the warehouse beetle and other stored product pests,” said Scott.

An aggressive pheromone monitoring program paired with stringent sanitation and cleaning protocols is recommended for tote filling and storage rooms to reduce the threat.

Sprague’s Scott recommends dairy processors take a preventive vs. reactive approach to reducing pest threats in and around their facilities.

  • Seal the structure to flying and crawling pests. Don’t leave exterior entrance or loading dock doors open any longer than needed to load or unload.
  • Create positive air pressure and install air curtains to deter flying insects and consider an exterior fly baiting program to reduce pressure.
  • Add a pheromone monitoring program to your pest control toolbox. The data collected will provide valuable information on pest pressure levels, where the pests are located and what adjustments are needed to your pest management program.
  • Establish and follow good sanitation protocols. Sanitation is pest control. Eliminating excess liquid and spillage – common occurrences in dairy processing plants – as well as other food waste is critical to reducing pest threats.

Discover The Sprague Difference

If you are looking for an innovative pest management service provider for your commercial property, connect with the Sprague pest management experts at 800.272.4988.

Food Processing & Manufacturing