Udder dissections give dairy employees a better understanding of milk production

Document Type


Publication Date



American Dairy Science Association


Journal of Dairy Science




Suppl. 1






dairy farms, udder dissection, dairy workers


Milk provides the major source of income on dairy farms and high- quality milk is the goal at every stage of the dairy operation. Employees are constantly asked to perform milking procedures correctly and con- sistently to achieve and maintain maximum milk quantity and quality. However, before performing the regular milking tasks, one needs to understand the function and structure of the mammary gland. It is known that hands-on activities enhance students’ interest and retention. The objective of the project was to assess knowledge gains following a 3-h udder dissection workshop. The training consisted of a PowerPoint presentation followed by an interactive hands-on session. The workshop explained: 1) the importance of understanding the main mammary gland physiology functions related to milk quality; 2) the importance of each step of the milking procedures; and 3) key recommendations about mastitis prevention related to the anatomical udder structure. A total of 18 dairy employees from 20 dairies representing 120,000 cows in Idaho participated in the training session. Participants were administered an exam consisting of 9 written questions before and immediately follow- ing the training. Exam scores were compared in SAS 9.4 (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC) using a paired t-test. Results indicate that the training had an effect (P < 0.0001) on dairy workers’ knowledge as indicated by the increase in average exam score from 2.13 ± 0.42 to 5.50 ± 0.38. Feedback indicated participants highly valued the hands-on experience and preferred it to traditional classroom settings. Giving dairy employees the chance to see a real udder inside and out will likely give them a different insight when they go back and milk the cows. The chance to get a different view of the udder also gives a better understanding of how mastitis can affect the animal. The knowledge originating from an udder dissection along with the classroom session may lead to a better understanding of the milking process and better milk quality by under- standing the key anatomical features of the mammary gland.

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