A survey study was conducted in Ezha district of Gurage zone to understand the hygienic practices during production and further handling of milk and milk products; and their utilization. One hundred and twenty households were selected based on ownership of dairy cows, milk processing practice and willingness to participate in the study from two agro-ecologies (Dega and Woyna Dega) within the district. None of the respondents washed udder before milking. The majority of women washed the equipments (90.8%) and their hands (71.5%) before milking. Olea africana and Hygenia abyssinica plant leaves were the most commonly smoking and cleaning plant species in the district. The average volume of milk churned at a time was 6 L. Women preserve butter by mixing with spices such as Nigella sativa, Aframomum angusti-folium, Trigonela fenum and Ocimum hardiense, while Ayib is preserved with the use of O. hardiense. Out of the total monthly milk production (55 L), 13.5 L were consumed, whereas the remaining was accumulated for further processing. Among milk and milk products produced, only butter and Ayib were supplied to local markets. Lack of clean water for cleaning purpose; limited knowledge on hygienic handling of milk and milk products; and unimproved milk processing materials were the three major constraints reported by the respondents according to their importance. Recognizing the importance milk and milk products to the producing household nutrition, health and income, development interventions are required to boost production, improve the quality of the products and efficiency of the traditional milk processing equipment.
Key words: Milk and milk products, hygiene, processing, utilization, Ezha, Ethiopia.
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