Pam Ruegg, veterinarian and milk-quality expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has outlined 10 things that dairy farms can do to achieve milking excellence.

According to Ruegg, smart farms:

1. Set performance goals. “There is an old saying that you can’t get to your destination unless you know where you are going,” she says. (For more details on this and the other goals listed, go to the web site: http://tinyurl.com/ oyu4kyw.)

2. Rapidly identify problems. “Farms that consistently produce high-quality milk have methods to monitor herd performance,” she says.

3. Milk clean cows. “Many progressive dairy farms have controlled contagious mastitis,” she says. The farms also work on minimizing environmental pathogens such as E. coli and the environmental streptococci.

4. Standardize their milking routines. “Achieving a consistent milking routine is the key to quality milk,” she says.

5. Train their staff.

6. Maintain and update their milking systems. “A properly functioning milking system is essential for the production of high-quality milk,” she says.

7. Have treatment protocols. “Treatment protocols are used to define standard treatments for common diseases on dairy farms,” Ruegg says.

8. Have mastitis biosecurity plans. “Mastitis biosecurity refers to keeping cattle safe from contagious mastitis pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, Steptococcus agalactia and Mycoplasma bovis,” she says.

9. Take care of their dry cows. “The dry period is a critical time for the development of mastitis,” she says, so preventative measures are important.

10. Use appropriate consultants. “The use of consultants can help farmers sort through complex issues and make informed decisions,” Ruegg says.