Milk quality workshops gather managers, employees for practice, certification

By Sherry Bunting

SPRUCE CREEK, Pa. — From the classroom morning session on udder anatomy, milk letdown, sanitation, udder prep, mastitis detection, milking equipment basics and the handling of abnormal milk to the hands-on afternoon session featuring cow handling, hygiene scoring and a mammary dissection — two bilingual milking and mastitis workshops recently engaged teams of employees from a variety of dairy farms in central and southeast Pennsylvania.

Around 15 employees from 5 dairy farms attended one of two workshops provided by Milk Quality Pays, Agri-Service LLC, and Mid-Maryland Dairy Vets.

Hosted by Willow-Behrer Farms, Spruce Creek, and Brubaker Farms, Mount Joy, the workshops were organized and led by Dr. Sandy Costello, Ph.D., of Milk Quality Pays; Marcela Martinez, milk quality and herd management specialist with Agri-Service LLC, Hagerstown, Md., and Dr. Cory Meyers DVM of Mid Maryland Dairy Vets.

The morning classroom session was interpreted for participating farm employees by Marcela Martinez (left) of Agri-Service LLC, and the instruction was provided by Dr. Sandy Costello of Milk Quality Pays and Dr. Cory Meyers (right) of Mid Maryland Dairy Vets. They covered milking equipment and procedures as well as udder anatomy and mastitis.

Both Drs. Costello and Meyers are certified “Train the Trainers” for National Milk Producers Federation’s FARM 3.0 program, including the important animal welfare aspects.

During the workshop at the Willow-Behrer location, 15 employees from five area dairy farms attended and engaged with the topics and trainers and were provided with certificates for the content areas covered.

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Marcela Martinez translates for employees as Dr. Cory Meyers leads the instruction during a mammary dissection at the bilingual milking and mastitis workshop.

Before breaking into groups, Dr. Meyers conducted a mammary dissection with Martinez providing Spanish translation for his demonstration as he showed employees various aspects of the mammary gland and demonstrated proper administration of intramammary treatments, including dry cow treatments, so they could see, for example, how far into the teat canal to go.

The workshop participants then split into two groups for the afternoon hands-on session, and rotated between the milking parlor with Dr. Costello and the freestall pens with Dr. Meyers.

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Dr. Cory Meyers of Mid-Maryland Dairy Vets demonstrates how to calmly and quietly separate a cow from her group. Each employee attending the workshop had the opportunity to do the exercise, and it was obvious there were very good cow handlers in the two groups. 

In the freestall pens, the attending employees learned and practiced Dr. Meyers’ tips for quiet, calm separation of individual cows from a group. He demonstrated first, with bilingual translations by Martinez and gave each employee an opportunity to do the exercise.

MilkQuality6543 (1)The atmosphere of competitive camaraderie was apparent between the mainly Hispanic employees as each quietly achieved the objective of sorting a specific cow from its group without using hand gestures or voice, just body position.

Participating employees practiced what they learned about calm cow handling and how to quickly and efficiently separate an individual cow from her group, without even taking their hands out of their pockets. Quite impressive.

With hands in their pockets, as Meyers instructed, each participant used the position and angle of his body to signal the direction the desired cow should go. They were all quite impressive and proud of themselves.

In the parlor, employees learned the basics of milking equipment and things to watch out for that affect sanitation, udder health, teat end health, and milk quality.

Dr. Sandy Costello, Milk Quality Pays consultant and accredited FARM 3.0 program ‘train the traner’ talks about things to look for in milking equipment maintenance and hygiene while Dr. Adrian Barragan, Penn State veterinary extension, translates for employees participating in a bilingual milking and mastitis workshop.

These workshops also gave the employees the chance to practice identifying issues with the CMT and strip cups as well as a conductivity meters like the Mas-D-Tec.

Employees from the various farms were enthusiastic and engaged in discussion with each other and presenters, making for a dynamic day of learning, practice, and improvement.



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