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SOPs – Standard Operating Procedures

Formal management programs such as Total Quality Management (TQM) and HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) have been adopted by many industries to help maintain process and quality control. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are common components of these programmes. SOPs help reduce the variation that occurs when different individuals perform the same task in different ways. CAFRE have worked with Firmount Veterinary Practice to develop a series of SOPs for the CAFRE Dairy Herd.

Larger dairy farms with multiple workers are ideally suited for adoption of SOPs because multiple employees often share responsibility for a single task and because variation in completing tasks such as: milking, feeding, bedding, health and reproductive management can have detrimental consequences for herd performance (Stup et al, 2006). It does not matter if a dairy producer has the best milking parlour feeding system and housing in the world, if employees do not perform their tasks consistently, herd health and performance will suffer. Larger dairy farms should have a set of written SOPs that explain how different jobs on the dairy are to be performed i.e. documents that define how the farm is operated and how the dairy herd managed.

A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is simply a written step-by-step set of instructions on how to complete a task and gives an employee a detailed description of how to handle a specific task within their job. SOPs help workers to do their job correctly in a consistent manner. They provide guidance for an employee who is faced with a situation that requires action. They help eliminate confusion and indecision. A written procedure puts all employees on the same page and helps foster a team approach to getting tasks done correctly and consistently. When employees are involved in developing the SOPs for the farm they will feel more invested in their job and are more likely to perform to their full potential.

If you would like guidance on having herd health management SOPs drawn up through your veterinary practitioner, please contact Martin Mulholland by email at:

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