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Stray Voltage, Product Liability, and
Risks to Modern Dairies

Modern dairy operations involve increasingly large commitments of capital, management energy, and business resources. Sophistication and dairy operations make the dairy farm among one of the most prolific places in American business for the necessity and presence of scientific disciplines. Interdisciplinary support, at great cost, includes: genetics, veterinarian medicine, pathology, engineering, microbiology, nutrition, economics, linguistics, and oversight of the inter-reaction of all these areas together.

Millions of dollars of cows, housed and milked with millions of dollars of buildings and machines on valuable land, can be derailed by the simplest defects, including:

  1. Small amounts of stray voltage;
  2. Small inconsistencies in pulsation;
  3. Subtle imprecision in vacuum, vacuum regulation, or equipment installation methodologies;
  4. Subtle engineering mistakes;
  5. Simple, but highly important sanitation procedures;
  6. Imprecision in medicinal regimens; and
  7. Trace nutritional imbalance.

Domina Law Group has handled, successfully, dairy loss cases involving each, and all, of the above areas. Dairy losses can be astronomical, 7 and 8 figure amounts accrue quickly, if not intercepted timely. This article deals with a few of the problem areas involved in modern dairy practice.

Stray Voltage

Six decades of scientific literature now establishes the need to maintain well grounded, professionally installed, suitable electrical systems in and around dairy barns. Dairy animals are susceptible to behavioral, health, and production impairment when any electrical current is allowed to run astray, outside its intended patterns, and up and down metal, or fluid processes to affect cows.

Common examples of small amounts of stray voltage – indeed as small as the voltage from a single flashlight battery can include:

  1. Poor or incomplete milk let down;
  2. Depressed milk production;
  3. Rapidly increasing somatic cell count and various kinds of mastitis;
  4. Disruption, or depression, of the estrus cycle;
  5. Poor fluid intake if the electrical current is found in the water supply; and
  6. Numerous other difficulties.

Stray voltage can have its origin in a variety of problems. These can range from inappropriate installation to unsuitable repairs or maintenance.

Nutritional Management

Nutritional Management is a complex subject requiring highly professional input for modern dairies. No effective summary of the issues can be made in a brief, general overview of this kind.

Effective feeding programs must, however:

  1. Balance all ration components and provide for their presentation in suitable particle sizes and mixes;
  2. Consist of constantly tested, high quality components;
  3. Reflect state-of-the-art awareness of both clinical and computer-based nutritional planning;
  4. Avoid reliance upon strictly text book balancing, by combining this information with clinical observations.

A number of good publications on this topic are available. One, recently revised at June 2006, is a publication of the University of Nebraska’s Extension Service. It is available at www.ianrpubs.unl.edu-g1629.pdf. This general overview is a worthwhile evaluative tool. Another excellent resource of Michigan State University may be found here.

The Dairy Parlor

Domina Law Group's work includes litigation against manufacturers of rotary dairies, and their components, for defective designs or installation. Rotary dairies are gaining increasing acceptance. They are complicated machines, requiring more consultation than is generally furnished strictly by the manufacturer.

Oftentimes, government compliance seems like a hassle, and an extraordinary cost, but compliance can assure careful review of systems and prevent much greater problems.

Some helpful guides can be used by producers to evaluate whether their vendors are performing appropriately. The Manual provides an effective checklist, ASAE installation standards, cleaning guidelines, facilities checklists, and a helpful overall management tool. Construction tips and manuals for dairy setups are also available.

Legal Services

Legal Services are available from a variety of sources. Many lawyers are competent at particular areas of practice. Agricultural law and dairy matters, specifically, require people who speak the language, understand the circumstances, relate to producers, and are experienced in dairy work.

The best lawyer, with no awareness of the facts, and no background, can be reduced to ineffectiveness by selecting a case inappropriate for the lawyer’s skills. Clients send strong messages about their conviction to their case, and their insistence upon precision, completeness and quality representation, by the counsel they select. Our lawyers are ethical, aggressive, and committed to providing spirit and vitality to the judicial system and our client’s legal rights.

Domina Law Group is a firm of trial lawyers that specialize in complex litigation on a national basis. Contact us today. 

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