Heim’s hillcrest dairy in Kewaunee, Wis., lowered its somatic cell count from 436,000 to 260,000 — thanks, in large part, to input it received from a management team. The management team involved the farm’s owners, a county extension dairy specialist, two veterinarians and a nutritionist.
The team began meeting in March 2002 under the auspices of the University of Wisconsin Milk Money program. Although the team’s initial focus was milk quality, it has since branched into other areas, such as employee management, dry-cow management, nutrition, and reproduction. Because the farm has gotten rid of herd bulls and gone exclusively to AI breeding, the team now involves a genetics company representative.
The management team laid out some good ideas, and the Heims were quick to embrace them. The Heims became very proactive in tracking cows on their computer. They segregated high-somatic-cell-count cows into a separate group for special treatment. And, they made sure that the milking crew was up-to-speed on milk-quality objectives and tactics.
The team also helped the Heims set realistic goals.