What do the dairy producers say who have achieved a level of milk quality in which somatic cell count (SCC) averages less than 100,000? According to Phil Durst, Michigan State University extension educator, a panel of five dairy farmers who have achieved this level of quality offered their “secrets” to success at a recent Dairyland Testing DHIA annual meeting.

Here are four factors these farms have in common:

1. A commitment to quality. It starts with the attitude of the owners who then instill that same attitude to all working on the farm. All talked about the responsibility to the public for the milk they purchase.

2. A broad view of factors that result in health and quality. According to these producers, “there is no silver bullet,” you have to do a lot of little things right. These producers wanted healthy cows. Somatic cell count was just one indicator of that. These herds followed standard operating procedures so that cows experienced consistency.

3. Recognition that it is a total team effort. Good communication is key. If everyone on the team is not responsive and timely, then milk quality suffers. “Instill the attitude of animal care and milk quality into everyone who touches a cow,” was how one producer put it.

4. Use of information. These producers were all members of DHIA and they talked about how they use the “hot sheet” to see which cows are high in SCC. Several relied heavily on milk culturing before treatment and used several different supportive treatments.