5 Second Rule


We have all heard of the 5 sec rule. If food touches the floor for less than 5 seconds it is safe to eat.

What about your milking parlor?  Does it have a 5 second rule?  If a liner touches the cow deck for 5 seconds or less can it be directly reattached to the cow?  How about three seconds, two? Or do we allow people to make a judgment decision based on visual cleanliness?

The truth is we are dealing with food in both cases.  The example using food we put directly in our mouths may seem a bit clearer, but milk in the tank soon becomes food for someone. Bacteria levels in milking parlors, just like floors in your home, can vary greatly. The key isn’t to estimate or calculate the number of bacteria, it is to establish a protocol and follow it. How about any liner that contacts something other than cows or hands gets sprayed with disinfectant?  Can’t do that? How about they get wiped with a towel?

Take a look today; do your parlor operators use a consistent method? Just like I responded to my children when they dropped a sucker on the driveway only to pick it up and put it back in their mouth, we need clear protocols to deal with what is an everyday issue.


Calf Milking

cow milking

We had an opportunity to speak to a group of dairy farmers this week and during the presentation on milking equipment a comment was made “We do it just like the calf.”

One of the first engineering concepts I was taught was to “do with a machine as close to doing it naturally as possible.” In the case of the cow, nature designed the mother to feed the calf, nothing more natural than the design of a mother feeding her young. In the case of a milking machine, the vacuum the calf produces to extract the milk from the teat is about where that correlation ends. Today’s high producing cows were never intended to feed their one or possible two off spring. Serious problems would occur if we fed a two week old calf 12-15 gallons of milk a day, production and genetic selection has outpaced the needs of the calf. That being said we also have labor/time constraints that dictate we remove that volume in ever decreasing time frames. [Read more…]

The Parlor Draft

I couldn’t help but notice how much time and effort has been placed on selecting the proper player in the upcoming NFL draft. Although Tom takes care of the people side I couldn’t help but relate the time and research spent selecting the right person to selecting the right new equipment.

The interesting thing about the selection process though, when selecting the “right” player all the good teams break down player by skills and needs. Priority is given to team needs and the selection process begins placing players in order of benefit to the team, with no talk of cost. The process of selection starts by identifying the need, not looking at who the experts say is best or who can fit into our current budget. [Read more…]

Simple is better

fresh air filter reminder

Ronald Reagan once said, “They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong.” Mr. Reagan was right about a couple of things and I would have to agree emphatically on this one.

I was on a dairy recently and saw this sign of simplicity staring me in the face. Often times we intend to change things like filters on a scheduled basis but the schedule and the filter never seem to be in the same place. Enter simplicity, a small piece of the box the filter came in, an exposed screw and a marker, done.

I applaud all of you out there solving problems, moving forward, finding new ones and keeping the faith that solutions will be found to those as well. Here is a free one, use it well and don’t forget to pass it on.

The Turtle Still Wins

The story of the tortoise and the hare is one most of us have heard. The obviously faster rabbit enters into the race with the clearly handicapped tortoise only to lose due to loss of focus and consistency.

As simple as the story and its moral is, it truly applies to some of the most difficult systems/businesses we can encounter. How on earth does it apply to milking? [Read more…]