Effect of Milking Personnel Performance and Turnover on Milk Losses in Dairy Herds

Dr. Gustavo M. Schuenemann, Extension Dairy Veterinarian, The Ohio State University

Background - It is common to observe large within-herd variation in milking personnel performance (MPP) and turnover (TO) over time. Assessing work team performance, resolution of conflicts, and comprehensive training of dairy personnel are critical tasks to achieve consistent performance of dairy herds. The effect of MPP (95 vs. 85%) and TO of personnel (5 vs. 30%) on milk losses of dairy herds was assessed.

Parameters Assessed - For the simulation, the performance of each milker (compliance with milking routine protocol) was set to 85 or 95%. Milk losses were set at 2.2 lb/cow/day due to lack of udder stimulation. An adjustment period of 14 day with a 66.5% performance was estimated for each new worker. The overall risk performance (%; RP) was estimated taking into account the team milking performance and the adjustment period of TO. The number of cows at risk (cows/day) was estimated based on the RP (10 milkers) and herd size (2000 cows). Milk price was set at $0.186/lb. Costs for herd audit were set at $1000 and training program at $1000 (for 4 sessions per year). Milk losses ($/year/cow) and return on investment (ROI) were estimated. Losses associated with the time and resources spent in recruitment, selection, and hiring, as well as the orientation and initial training of new personnel, were not included.

Results - For a 2000-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. Cows at risk and milk losses were higher ($14/cow/year) for RP 85% with 30% TO (342 cows/day) compared with RP 95% with 5% TO (110 cows/day). 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.

Implications - Both TO and RP of work teams affect the bottom line of dairy herds. 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.


The information provided in this article was generated through the OSU Veterinary Extension training program (Dairy Personnel School) and will be presented at the 2013 ADSA/ASAS joint annual meeting in July.


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  3. Schuenemann, G.M., M.G. Maquivar, S. Bas, and J.D. Workman. 2013. Effect of milking personnel performance and turnover on milk losses in dairy herds. J. Dairy Sci (Abstr).