To achieve efficient milking and good-quality milk, it is important that qualified people work in the milking parlor. It is important that the milker not only knows about how to produce quality milk, but also how to coordinate his work with the other milkers inside the parlor. Milking constitutes the clearest example of what teamwork should involve.
Coordinating work among milkers prevents many mistakes in milking. If the dairy uses more than one milker per shift, it is necessary to divide the tasks for each milker. This way, we can avoid confusion among milkers and there is better work performance. For example, in a dairy with two milkers per shift, one milker should check that the milking system — hose connections, valves and switches — are clean and in good working condition before starting milking, while the other milker assures that all of the supplies needed for milking — towels, drip solution, gloves — are in place.
Workers who understand teamwork can accomplish great work performance as a group. They have a plan (schedule, procedure, supplies); they work together, not individually, in accomplishing a team goal (cows per hour, better somatic cell count); they develop trust among themselves and know that everyone is pulling his own weight, and each uses his own strengths to make it happen.
In some dairies, outside corral workers also participate in milking. The help from outside people should not be directly on the milking procedure; instead, it should be on the tasks that contribute to an efficient milking.
It is necessary that the person in charge of managing personnel reminds everyone — especially new milkers — about the importance of teamwork. Only through teamwork will milking be easier, allow better milk quality, improve cow flow per hour, and reduce stress on the cows.
Segundo Gonzalez is a dairy consultant specializing in on-farm training of Hispanic workers in the Upper Midwest. He can be reached at (301) 222-7228 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.