The study was conducted in Debre Berhan Milk shed Areas, central highlands of Ethiopia, with the objectives to evaluate the physio-chemical characteristics, microbial load and hygienic practices of raw cow milk produced and marketed in study areas. A total of 359 milk samples were collected and analyzed physio-chemical and microbial examination. The study revealed that the proportions of respondents who practice washed their hands before milking was 95.4%. Moreover, 78.3% of respondents had access to tap water to clean hands, the udder of animals and milk utensils. Most (63.5%) of the respondents reported that they used cold water and soap, while the rest (36.5%) washed their hands with cold water. About 77.1% of the respondents cleaned milk utensils immediately after use with cold water and detergent (Ajax). Moreover, to remove visible dirt that entered into the milk, most 80.75% of the respondents filtered the milk with a muslin cloth (80%) and sieve (11.3%) respectively. The physical and chemical qualities of milk samples obtained from the study areas were significantly different (P<0.05). The data demonstrate that milk physical and chemical properties from the value chain had slightly fulfilled to the global and Ethiopia standard. Higher (SCC/ml) was found in urban 6.18 areas of the study compared to the peri-urban areas. Similarly, TBCload increased by 7.01±1.02 log10cfu/ml, 7.50±0.51 log10cfu/ml, and 8.16±0.68 log10cfu/ml times at milk producers, collection and milk processing plants. Therefore, the collected milk sample from all value points does not meet the minimum quality standard. Therefore, further research works to address constraints and to improve milk quality along the value chain are imperative.
Keywords: Chemical properties; microbial quality; raw milk; Ethiopia