National Mastitis Council (NMC) News Release

Building the Science Classroom on Dairy Farms

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Food quality is increasingly important to consumers, including the quality of dairy foods. With respect to the quality of milk leaving the dairy farm, non-family labor is playing an increasingly important role. Employees perform critical tasks such as milking, providing cow comfort, and in some herds, health care of the cows. However, communication and training barriers between managers and employees impede many herds from reaching their full milk quality potential. This results from a ‘cultural lag’ within the dairy industry; employee management relations, and especially effective training and teaching programs, have not kept up with the changes in labor on many dairy farms. At the 55th annual meeting of the National Mastitis Council (Glendale, AZ; Jan 31st – Feb 2nd, 2016) Quality Milk Alliance team members, Ronald Erskine, DVM and Rhyannon Moore, DVM, in cooperation with Michelle Borek-Stine, DVM (private practitioner from Thumb Veterinary Services, Sandusky, MI) presented seminars on the importance of employee education on dairy farms and a shortcourse entitled – “Engaged Employees: The Connection between Protocols and Performance”. The shortcourse provided course participants case studies, novel technologies and methods, and the science on how to better understand the management culture on a farm and thus, to better engage employees with improved training and teaching in a ‘science classroom’ on the farm. Experiences of Dr Borek-Stine and other veterinary practitioners who have adopted the approach of on-farm employee education, with the help of materials and resources provided by the QMA team, have shown that employees appreciate the opportunity to learn and are more likely to follow protocols that result in less mastitis and antibiotic use on dairy farms. This improves milk quality from the milking parlor all the way to the refrigerator in the kitchen.

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