Quality Milk Alliance Focus Groups

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Information about Quality Milk Alliance Focus Groups

Published on April 15, 2014

Author: bucqueroux

Source: slideshare.net


Dr. Ruben Martinez of the Julian Samora Research Institute at Michigan State University discusses what the focus groups told the Quality Milk Alliance research team about mastitis prevention on dairy farms.

Rubén Martinez With the assistance of Marizel Davila Figueroa; William Escalante and Christian Ramirez Annual Advisory Meeting East Lansing, MI June 18, 2013

 Pre-evaluation of current behavioral barriers to adopting mastitis control protocols To understand current behaviors/practices, knowledge, and beliefs about mastitis control and antimicrobial use on dairy farms  Survey of dairy farms (pre-assessment)  Focus groups with owners/managers and employees Sub-aim 1a 2

 Conducted from February through April in MI, PA & FL Piloted in MI (two focus groups in Dec, 2012) Five in MI (additional Spanish-speaking groups) Four in PA (additional Amish group) Three in FL (three key groups) Focus Groups 3

 Employers/Managers Spanish Speaking Employees English Speaking Employees Amish owners Groups 4

 Existing Mastitis Control Practices Barriers to Mastitis Control Values and Beliefs (regarding Mastitis control) 5 Focus Areas of Questions

 Employees generally have an understanding of mastitis prevention Various types of bedding are used (manure; sawdust; sand; water beds) Milker training is inconsistent Information usually obtained from veterinarians, other managers, newsletters, etc. Mastitis = Farm costs Key Findings 6

 Cleanliness -- Farm-wide practices  Bedding  Milking practices  Stripping  Dipping Variable across farms  Post-dipping  Sealing  Clean equipment (liner replacement, vacuum lines, milking machines, etc.) Mastitis Prevention 7

 Well functioning equipment (pulsators; regulators, etc.) Avoid overcrowding  Use of free stalls  Minimizing stress Close observation of cows 8 Mastitis Prevention Cont’d

 Training of milkers is inconsistent and usually done by co-workers (gap in views between workers & owners/mgrs) Limited training provided to workers by veterinarians, occasional workshops Self learning through videos (limited use) Manual (SOP; Protocol) for farm use (PA vets group) Limited understanding of SCC 9 Training Issues

 Mixed responses regarding communication problems with Spanish-speaking employees  ―Language a problem in other spheres‖ – getting to know them beyond workplace issues (―know their opinion of us‖)  Limited translators (usu. through a Latino manager) Limited communications between work shifts Latino workers reluctant to report problems (―don’t upset the boss‖; ―clam up when someone breaks something‖; seek to make temporary fixes) 10 Communication Issues

―[Latino workers] don’t like gray areas—they want a boss‖ Limited understanding of SCC among workers Band markings  Inconsistent use of colors  Minimizes direct communications between shifts Minimum communications between ―bosses and workers‖ – limited opportunities for worker input  Meetings do not seek worker inputs 11 Communication Issues Cont’d

 Meetings with management have limited discussion with workers (esp. with Latino workers); characterized by scolding/accusatory climate Veterinarians → Mgmt → Workers Owners → Foremen → Workers 12 Communication Issues Cont’d

 Veterinarians Other Managers Magazines/Newsletters Local sales guys Labels on meds Nutritionist Internet 13 Information Sources

 Pressure on milkers to produce  Milkers get all the pressure—whole farm depends on them Number of cows milked by employees suggested is 500 per shift (milking up to 800; maybe more) ―Quantity over Quality‖ climate; ―time pressures lead to shoddy work‖; no room for distractions; ―Rapid pace leads to increased mastitis‖ 14 Production Issues

Lack of consistency in cleanliness  Inconsistent practices across shifts  Protocol drift; ―employee drift‖ (85-95% consistency)  Dirty bedding (problems with wet, frozen, and recycled sawdust and sand; removing dirty sand and adding to sand)  Dirty equipment (machines, hoses, etc.)  Irregular use of gloves (replacement; sizes)  Heat and humidity/wet pastures (lead to spikes) 15 Mastitis Prevention Problems

Keeping sick cows too long (should sell earlier despite productivity) Undermilking and overmilking identified as problems (workers) Cost-cutting measures lead to employee turnover, which leads to spikes in mastitis Knowing which antibiotic to use in treatment Part-time employees are inconsistent Lack of overall team effort on the farm Investment in prevention (costs money) 16 Mastitis Prevention Problems Cont’d

Punitive model of worker management  Upper management only meets with milkers when things have gone wrong (―save downed cows and never rewarded‖; ―not even a tap on the shoulder‖) Limited incentive models  SCC bonuses by wholesale buyers don’t always flow down to workers  Lack of wage increases (unpaid time; 30 minutes early arrival for shift communication w/o pay– FL)  Limited time off (12 hour work-shifts; no OT pay; 6 day work weeks;) Little or no breaks provided for workers 17 Human Resource Mgmt

 Cultural Gaps – instrumental (task-oriented vs person-oriented culture)  Language communication problems are basis for lack of communication on personal level with workers  Spanish-speaking workers feel very isolated living on the farms ―Workers are not respected‖ – leads to worker apathy (les vale…); workers view themselves as invisible  Mutual respect is critical 18 Issues Peculiar to Latino Workers

 Gap between worker and owner/manager views -- latter view them as hardworking and reliable (workers feel non-valued and invisible) Workers want increased understanding of the how and why of practices 19 Issues Peculiar to Latino Workers Cont’d

 Mastitis = costs (important to avoid treatment costs) Family farms take pride in quality – they are personally invested in the product Profit rate is greater with low SCC Employees want to perform well on behalf of employers 20 Values

Achieve consistency and accuracy in training; provide constant reminders of protocol consistency Provide information/education to meet managers/employees (esp. Latinos) desire to know more about mastitis prevention and treatment Find ways to improve communications  Translate materials (manuals) into Spanish View industry in transitional phase from family farm to corporate businesses and the need for HR development 21 Summary Recommendations

“Happy cows are productive cows” 22

Happy Workers are Productive Workers 23

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