Dairy scientists at the University of Kentucky interviewed managers on some of the top milk production herds in the state to characterize their management practices. They selected 24 dairy producers with a minimum rolling herd average of 22,000 pounds for the project. 

“These farms represented the top DHI milk production herds in Kentucky at the time of the survey,” say Alison Smith, Curtis Coombs, and Jeffrey Bewley in the March 2013 issue of Kentucky Dairy Notes. “Herd size ranged from 25 to 1,590 lactating cows with an average of 191 cows, demonstrating that high milk production can be achieved in both small and large Kentucky herds.” 

Management practices used on the farms were categorized by milking practices, management practices and tools, and feed additives. The top milking practices were: drying teats before attaching the milking unit, dry treating all quarters of all cows, pre-dipping, and post-dipping. The top management practices were: regular forage testing, use of fans, heat detection aids, and use of artificial insemination for heifers.

Producers were asked to identify the one management practice that contributed the most to their milk production level. The most frequently cited reasons were (1) attention to detail, (2) nutrition, (3) cow comfort, and (4) quality forages.

“The response of ‘attention to detail’ demonstrates the importance of management ability in attaining high milk production,” Smith, Coombs and Bewley say. “Obviously, this trait is difficult to quantify but demonstrates that an attitude of excellence contributes to high milk yield.” 

Read more about the project results here.