Standard operating procedures can unlock your herd's potential

Every animal in your herd should get a high level of care. Planning a standard operating procedure with your vet for the main tasks will help you to do this.
Every animal in your herd should get a high level of care. Planning a standard operating procedure with your vet for the main tasks will help you to do this.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Healthier animals are more productive, cost less to rear, have a lower environmental footprint and a higher welfare status.

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) help reduce the variation that can occur when different people perform the same task in different ways.

Dairy farms with several workers are best suited for the adoption of SOPs, because often several employees share responsibility for tasks such as milking, feeding, bedding, health and reproductive management, and a variation in completing these tasks can reduce herd performance.

SOPs should be common on larger farms. On a family farm, SOPs do not necessarily need to be written down, but can be the outcome of a discussion with the vet, the aim being to improve management practices and the health of livestock. A SOP is simply a written step-by-step set of instructions on how to complete a task. #

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SOPs can:

  • Help workers to do their job correctly in a consistent manner.
  • Help eliminate confusion and indecision.
  • Ensure all tasks and treatments follow veterinary advice.
  • Put all workers on the same page and helps foster a team approach to getting tasks done correctly and consistently.

When staff are involved in developing the SOPs for the farm they feel more appreciated in their job and are more likely to perform to their full potential.

CAFRE have worked with Firmount Veterinary Practice to develop a series of SOPs for their dairy herd, detailing procedures to follow for different health events such as: diagnosing/treating milk fever, mastitis treatment, lameness and drying off methodology.

The SOPs can be viewed on the CAFRE website, under the Industry Training, Knowledge Transfer section. They have been updated to reflect the move away from the use of critically important antibiotics, which have now been eliminated in the CAFRE herd.

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Lifetime yield for the herd is around 40,000 litres, and while many factors feed into this result, performing tasks in a consistent manner is a very important part.

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