Babcock Centrifuge Fat Tester

Production date
Circa 1890
This Babcock milk tester is one of the original models imported into New Zealand in 1892 for the NZ Dairy Association. Used at the Pukekohe Dairy Factory.

The Babcock butterfat test, developed at the University of Wisconsin by S.M. Babcock, provided a simple, accurate, and inexpensive way to assess milk quality and to pay farmers accordingly. The test involved separating milk proteins dissolved in sulfuric acid from milk fats and determining the butterfat percentage contained in the mixture. When spun at 50 degrees Celcius, the fat floated to the top. With the milk tester came a purpose-built graduated cylinder into which the milk and acid were mixed before spinning. The amount of fat would usually lie within a three and five percent range and could be determined in a matter of minutes.

By improving standards and rewarding the best milk producers, the Babcock butterfat test transformed the dairy industry.
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Object detail

Production date
Circa 1890
Wood and Metal
520 x 400 x 412 mm (h x w x d)
Production place
Department collection type
Credit line
Collection of Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato
Accession number


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