Kit, herd testing; 2011.102


Kit, herd testing

About this object

Herd testing kit; a heavy centrifuge consisting of a cast-iron tub, with a crank on the outside. Painted blue. The lid is embossed: "FACILE / 80 Turns Crank Per Min". Used for measuring the butter fat content of milk.

Herd testing first began in 1926, when Prime Minister Massey was interested in increasing farm production in New Zealand. Testing was at first conducted by the Owaka Butter Factory. If a farmer wanted their herd tested, a sample of milk from each cow was sent to the factory. The amount of butter fat was recorded and the results were given to the farmer. However, this process cost money.

This particular testing kit belonged to the McNab family, Tahatika. Edith McNab, the eldest of five children to Thomas and Margaret Ann McNab was interested in herd testing as a young girl of 12-13 years. Her father, Tom, bought testing equipment and for many years Edith tested milk with hte equipment placed on the kitchen table.

A sample of milk was taken from each cow and placed in a text tube that was added to the centrifuge. They were identified by a paper label. Sulphuric acid was added to each tube. When the centrifuge was full of test tubes and balanced properly, the centrifuge handle was turned to a particular time on the clock. The action of the acid on the milk brought the butter fat to the top. It was then measured with a pair of callipers (As remembered by Jack McNab).

Medium and Materials

processed material, metal, iron
organic, vegetal, wood
processed material, glass

Inscription and Marks

Embossed on lid: "FACILE / 80 TURNS CRANK PER MIN"


h 340mm x l 570mm x w 370mm

Subject and Association Keywords

animal culture, cattle, dairy processing. dairy products

Credit Line

From the collection of Owaka Museum Wahi Kahuika The Meeting Place "a rest on your journey"

Object Type

occupation-based equipment

Object number


Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved