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Extension > Agriculture > Dairy Extension > Milk quality and mastitis > What makes these farms excellent?

What makes these farms excellent

Jeff Reneau, Professor of Dairy Management

January 7, 2011

Over the past 6 months, the Extension Dairy Team held 14 milk quality field days on Minnesota farms with records of outstanding milk quality. I had the opportunity to learn a lot from the producers as they described how they have achieved such consistently good results. In reflecting on the comments I heard at each farm, observing the management practices first-hand and studying their DHI records, several familiar themes prevail.

A 2007 United Kingdom case-control study by Martin Green and his associates serves to demonstrate the point that there is not a lack of information, but rather a lack of consistent application of what we already know. In this study, two groups of dairy farms with higher than average SCCs and clinical mastitis cases were carefully evaluated. Similar dairies were paired with one group designated as a control group. Very specific recommendations to remedy the high SCC and clinical mastitis problems were given to each of the other dairies. The results (see Figure 1) showed that herds implementing greater than 66% of the recommendations made much more progress than either the control herds (where no recommendations were made) or those implementing fewer recommendations.

My experience has been that most dairies are already doing many of the "right" things to achieve low mastitis levels and quality milk but are not getting them done consistently. Now that we are in a new year, this is a perfect time to make a SCC self assessment to be sure that you are doing all you can to improve milk quality in 2011. To get started, try our interactive milk quality self assessment quiz, which can be found at: extension.umn.edu/dairy/milk-quality-self-assessment/.

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