Personnel, turnover can lead to milk losses in dairy herds

Published on: Jul 11, 2013
Frequent assessment of performance, educational needs, and training of dairy personnel should be top priorities for dairy operations to achieve a consistent and efficient herd performance over time, according to The Ohio State University researchers G.M. Schuenemann, M.G. Maquivar, S. Bas and J.D. Workman.

The researchers noted that it is common to observe large within-herd variation in milking personnel performance (MPP) and turnover (TO) over time. So to assess the effect of MPP (95% vs. 85%) and TO of personnel (5% vs. 30%) on milk losses of dairy herds a simulation was conducted where the performance of each milker (compliance with milking routine protocol) was set to 85% or 95%. Milk losses were set at 1 kg/cow/d due to lack of udder stimulation. An adjustment period of 14 days with a 66.5% performance was estimated for each new personnel. The overall risk performance (%; RP) was estimated taking into account the team milking performance and TO. The number of cows at risk (n/d) was estimated based on the RP (10 milkers) and herd size (2,000 cows). Milk price was set at $0.41/kg. Costs for herd audit were set at $1,000 and training program at $1,000 (for 4 sessions per yr). Milk losses ($/yr/herd) and return on investment (ROI) were estimated.

For a 2,000-cow herd, the overall effect of TO (5% vs. 30%) on milk losses was $6,744 while the overall effect of RP (85% vs. 95%) on milk losses was $27,920, the researchers said. Cows at risk and milk losses were higher ($14 per cow/yr) for RP 85% with 30% TO (342 cows/d) compared with RP 95% with 5% TO (110 cows/d).

The ROI for high performance teams (RP 95% and 5% TO) was $18 for every $1 invested (herd audit and training). The estimated ROI assumes that facilities are adequate, participants are willing to learn and apply the newly learned concepts, and the herd audit correctly identifies the needs and the training program correctly addresses them.

Both TO and RP affect the bottom line of dairy herds, the researchers said. Frequent assessment of performance, educational needs and training of dairy personnel should be top priorities for dairy operations to achieve a consistent and efficient herd performance over time, they noted.