Make sure you
never miss a post.

Put data to work for better milk quality in three easy steps

September 21, 2020
POSTED BY: Bill Sullivan, Quality Milk Specialist, Zoetis

In today’s world, there is no shortage of data you can collect on a dairy farm. It can be useful when setting your goals, such as improving milk quality. However, data also can be overwhelming to organize, interpret and then use to make business decisions.


Having experts by your side can help provide a winning combination of data analysis and on-farm evaluation to uncover the right opportunities to help improve milk quality and profitability on your dairy.


Consider these three steps when using data to improve milk quality in your herd:


Step one: Understanding the true cost of high SCC

Do you know how much high somatic cell count (SCC) is actually costing your dairy? We know the impact of high SCC is real; in fact, one study showed cows with a first-test SCC greater than 200,000 produced 1,583 pounds less milk on average during that lactation.1


While the exact number of lost production can vary across operations, we can use this study as a starting place to benchmark progress on your dairy. Even if your SCC is below industry standard of 200,000, there may still be opportunities to improve individual and lactation-group SCC within your herd.


 Zoetis Quality Milk specialists can perform data analyses to evaluate what high SCC is costing your dairy. They also can compare losses from specific lactation groups to help you identify opportunities, such as management or environmental changes or improving milk quality, and guide you toward next steps.


Step two: Evaluate your dairy’s performance

Depending on your milk quality goals, your dairy also may benefit from a more targeted analysis of management factors. Q-MAX® Maximum Milk Quality Plan is an on-farm milk quality evaluation offered by Zoetis that can help producers identify opportunities for better parlor management, including:

  • Managing labor and equipment
  • Monitoring and evaluating parlor performance
  • Reviewing udder health and milk yield data


During the Q-MAX evaluation, a Quality Milk specialist will come out to your dairy and evaluate teat end scores, parlor procedures, free-stall conformation, cow comfort, udder hygiene and hock lesion scores as well as stocking density. They also will work with your herd veterinarian and employees to get a full picture of your operation and then use the data gathered to help you pinpoint potential milk quality challenges and develop a plan for addressing them.


Step three: Consider a team approach

A team approach can help you turn your data into strategic and focused action. Talk with your Zoetis representative to learn more about how you can use your dairy’s data to inform your milk quality management program.


1 Kirkpatrick MA, Olson JD. Somatic Cell Counts at First Test: More Than a Number, in Proceedings. NMC Annu Meet 2015;53-56.


All trademarks are the property of Zoetis Services LLC or a related company or a licensor unless otherwise noted.

© 2020 Zoetis Services LLC. All rights reserved. GDR-00609


Have a Comment? Subscribe