Objective. To identify factors associated with high and low Somatic Cell Counts (SCC) levels in bulk tanks of dairy farms in Southeast Brazil. Materials and methods. A total of 68 dairy herds with high and low bulk tank SCC levels were analyzed. Surveys and checklists were applied to the personnel regarding milking routines and equipment. Results. Milkers and management personnel explained up to 40.28% of the variability among herds, while the milker's well-being and stability explained up to 28%. Planning and organization were relevant for SCC, as well as the state of the equipment and the milking routine. According to separate analyzes of employees and owners, employees have greater variability in terms of knowledge on milk production, mastitis, milking routine, and experience. Conclusion. There are qualifying factors in milking systems in southeastern Brazil associated with milking personnel, equipment and milking routine. Understanding these factors will enable the implementation of strategies to produce better quality milk.