Standard operating procedures
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are descriptions of the way particular tasks should be carried out on your farm. They help ensure that everything that needs to be done gets done – for example, correct hygiene procedures during milking to minimise mastitis. Using standard operating procedures is also the way to get consistency when different people are doing the same job.
Creating a standard operating procedures manual from scratch can be quite daunting as most owner/operators start with the information in their heads. Each farm will have its own way of doing things, partly because of the infrastructure and partly because of the management.
The Farm Safety Manual contains some standard operating procedure templates and examples to get your started, which you can tailor to your farm.
ABC DAIRY FARM PTY LTD
ABC DAIRY FARM PTY LTD needed to employ a new milker to add to their current team of four. As a new person was joining the farm, the manager thought it was a perfect time to review the farm’s milk harvesting procedures and the farm’s operating manual. The manager created a set of standard operating procedures for milk harvesting that he then customised to suit the farm and inserted in the operating manual. The manual was used with the milking staff to set out clearly how things should be done.
ABC DAIRY FARM P/L – OPERATING MANUAL
Movement of cows to and from paddock to dairy
Check to see where the herd is now and where it is going next. Check the laminated map in the dairy office.
Perform pre-use check of quad bike.
Apply sunscreen and wear protective clothing, when applicable.
Put on your motorcycle helmet. Never carry passengers.
Ride to collect herd, observing our agreed speed limit of 30 km/hr.
Reduce speed on slippery tracks and days of poor visibility.
Upon reaching paddock open gate.
Drive out around cows and herd quietly towards gate.
Use farm safety approved broad tapes.
Observe troughs and fences. Fix problems where possible. If not possible, report the problem when you return to the dairy. Write the details on the whiteboard.
Push cows into laneway.
Go back and wind up/shift temporary electric fence if required.
Gently move herd towards the dairy at comfortable walking pace, taking note of any sick or lame cows.
If cows are not walking do not try to force from the rear but walk through them to keep them moving.
Check that the yard gates are open to allow free flow into the yards do not force from behind if you are not sure.
Secure cows in holding yard.
Check with milkers to determine end of previous herd (if applicable).
If not finished assist milkers by cleaning up or giving a break.
Follow last cow out and reset gates for next herd.
Lock herd away.
If a cow is down lame or sick – treat or immediately report to appropriate person for assistance.
Work as a team – communicate with each other. Use the whiteboards in the dairy office.
Remove keys and return to cupboard.
Report any bike mechanical faults to your supervisor immediately.
Quality assurance programs based on hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) systems are required by all dairy companies of their suppliers to ensure food safety. Dairy farms are subject to audits to verify that the food safety risk management systems they have in place are working.
The requirements of your dairy company’s food safety system should be taken into account when developing your standard operating procedures and incorporated into your procedures manual.
An emerging area of compliance and quality assurance for primary producers, not just dairy farmers, concerns environmental stewardship. Environmental management systems may also require formal documentation in the future. As with food safety systems, environmental management systems will need to be integrated into your farm’s operating manual.