Milker Training to Improve Milk Quality

Dale Thoreson, Field Specialist Dairy/Beef/Forages, Northeast

Problem Statement:

Snow Rock Dairies was experiencing a gradually increasing somatic cell count (SCC) in their dairy herd. As the SCC rose above 350,000 their creamery started to deduct from their milk pay price rather than give them a bonus if it was less than 350,000. The dairy employs a number of part-time people to accomplish the 3 times a day milking routine on this 350 cow dairy. It was surmised that the milking protocols’ were not being followed routinely as there was no contagious bacteria found in recent Bulk Tank samples. If the herd could reduce its bulk tank score to under 150,000 it would gain about $0.50 /cwt pay price. In this herd that would be over $42,000 annually. Plus there would be less treatment costs and greater milk production resulting in another $43,000 in gross income annually.

Programmatic Response:

A “Milker Training” school was held on the farm with all 14 employees present. A pre-training session was held with the dairy owner and two herdsmen to make sure the milking protocols were agreed to by management. A combination of classroom discussion and hands-on experiences in the milking parlor were used to teach the proper protocols of milking.


Using PC-DART herd evaluation software and comparing the 2 months before the Milking School to the  2 months after, the herd reduced it’s SCC down to 275,000, but it since has moved back to 400,000. However PC-DART analysis of before and after the management intervention (Milking School) shows 80 cows present during the change gained 4 pounds of milk per day, $0.56 in gross  income per cow and 2,848 pounds of projected 305 day mature equivalent milk per lactation. The extra milk (4 lbs/cow) is with $85,994 for the entire year. This does not account for the increase in milk price due to a lower SCC. That would be approximately $1,100 in annual premiums. A post-training survey showed 89% of participants had a better understanding of proper milking procedures, 78% had a better understanding of the impact they had on milk quality, 78% reported a better understanding of how udder cleanliness had an impact on milk quality, and 56% reported more knowledge of what mastitis is and the difference between clinical and subclinical mastitis.

Unfortunately with part-time labor, much of it local high school students, here is much labor turnover and a continuing need for additional milker training.


112 Integrated Herd Health Management

Page last updated: August 25, 2008
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