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Engaged people overcome milk quality mediocrity

November 26, 2014
POSTED BY: Jorge Estrada, PeopleFirst™ organizational development consultant, executive coach, Zoetis

How do you normally respond to a milk quality challenge on your dairy? By retraining milkers? Changing teat dip or mastitis treatment? Changing procedures? These might be temporary fixes, but they often aren’t a solution to the problem. Real, lasting change comes from an engaged workforce motivated to execute protocols consistently.

That’s exactly what happened when I worked with a dairy in California. Its manager participated in the PeopleFirst Supervisory Certificate program. Before implementing a successful management approach on their farm, this dairy was stuck in mediocrity. Managers constantly struggled with the common issues of employee engagement and effectiveness. The herd manager felt he could never delegate work because he didn’t trust his team to follow through. Meanwhile, the dairy was stuck with somatic cell counts over 300,000 and was unable to make lasting improvement. With smart investments into workplace culture and better delegation and management strategies, they were able to transform their team into one that was motivated, engaged and worked well together. The results:

  • Reduced somatic cell counts1
  • Decreased clinical mastitis cases by 25%1
  • Increased milk production and quality1
  • A projected $236,220* saved in mastitis costs.*1,2

From my experiences working with dairies, I’ve learned substantial, positive change comes from establishing sound procedures and having a team dedicated to ensuring they are carried out properly. Take a look at this case study to see what simple changes in management made the biggest difference on team performance, culture of the operation and, ultimately, this dairy’s profitability. Can you relate to their all-too-familiar challenges?
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*Costs are based on a conservative cost estimate that every clinical mastitis case costs a dairy about $155 on average (a conservative estimate only accounting for loss in milk yield, treatment costs and mortality; other economic factors such as milk quality and culling rates are not included).2

1 Data on file, Study Report No. 13ORSERV03, Zoetis Inc.
2 Cha E, Bar D, Hertl JA, et al. The cost and management of different types of clinical mastitis in dairy cows estimated by dynamic programming. J Dairy Sci 2011;94:4476-4487.


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