The importance of Standard Operating Procedures

On both family farms and large farms with employees, the need is high for clear procedures. The use of so called Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) will maximize labor efficiency and reduce the chance of mistakes. With an SOP we have to keep in mind that these procedures are similar in general, but need to be adapted for each farm. An SOP ensures that each procedure is done according to the set rules by each and every single person on the farm. Having standard procedures gives farmers peace of mind and will stimulate employees to do their utmost for improved farm performance.

Management, Milking

A good  SOP consists of an explanation of the various steps of a procedure, easy-to-understand images and some short explanation lines. The following actions can be implemented in an SOP:
- Collecting cows from the attention list.
- Cleaning the cubicles.
- Registering a mastitis treatment in T4C.
- Changing the milk filter(s).

When working on a regular-size family farm, daily tasks (i.e., a cow that needs to calve or be moved to a different group) can be discussed during a coffee break or at lunchtime. Although this informal way is normal when few people are involved, it still is useful to consider implementing some form of SOP. When working on a larger farm where various employees take care of the same routines / procedures, perhaps even in various shifts per day , communication and commitment are required to be able to manage the dairy farm properly and efficiently. An SOP then ensures every single task is done in the same way for work routines.


When working on a (large) dairy farm a certain hierarchy and responsibilities are to be taken into account. Therefore it is highly important every single employee is aware of his/her task and role in the dairy farm. Also the total work routine on the farm needs to be clear to every one. For example a clock can only show the correct time when all parts, small and large, work together in the right routine.  Clear procedures ensure this routine and provide structure for all involved people.


Clear communication is essential for proper management of your dairy farm and commitment of your employees. When the farm manager and the employees are clearly informed about the farm’s goal and strategy the protocols are the best way to reach this goal. By communicating this, the common goal is clear to every single employee and they will see and understand the importance and use of the right procedures.


When employees are committed to their work and the farm, failures will decrease and efficiency will increase. The farm manager can stimulate commitment by:
- Awareness; communicate the goals, to family and/or employees. 
- Understanding; explain how the daily work is related to the goals of the complete dairy farm.
- Feedback; ask for feedback to improve commitment and to achieve the dairy farm goals.
- Action plan; compose clear and easy-to-understand working methods (SOPs).
- Reflection; communicate back when the goals are reached and celebrate this with the people on the farm.
- Commitment arises when people have the possibility to give input on their work and notice the results on their daily work routines when their input is implemented.

By implementing SOPs within the routines on your dairy farm a clear structure is given and commitment will increase. As a result the overall efficiency will raise but most of all work pleasure is ensured. And that is what Lely stands for:  profitable and enjoyable farming.