New Milking parlours & parlour updates

For most dairy farmers the milking parlour is their place of business for at least half of each working day – typically four hours – so no wonder many want to improve throughput or reduce time allocated to milking.
Changing a parlour is not a step to be taken lightly.
Choosing any item of machinery can have implications for unit output and profitability,
It is suggested the main reasons for altering milking equipment is to reduce overheads, in particular labour costs, or to simply spend less time milking your cows.
But extending or changing the layout of parlours can require investment, as more often than not existing building and parlour layout may need to be altered.
Others may see updating equipment as a route to improved efficiency
Just like any machinery, parlour equipment requires regular maintenance.
The need for an annual parlour check as outlined in dairy farm assurance rules; don’t forget this is a minimum requirement and there are no penalties for exceeding it.
When sourcing new or used equipment direct from suppliers, it’s important to get it right first time.
Once installed, and before any cow is milked, get the parlour checked by an expert.
Defective or improperly installed equipment can have an immediate and long-term influence on both milking performance and – more importantly – cow health.
As well as possibly extending milking times, the augmented risk of teat damage from too high vacuum, faulty pulsation and ill-fitting teat cup liners can increase risks mastitis in a herd.
Ensure equipment to be used, whether new or second-hand, is installed by a suitably experienced and qualified engineer.
To qualify the above!
A recent visit to a customer whom had a second-hand parlour fitted, had issues with Bactoscan and fidgety cows.
The vacuum pump was installed at the far end of a loft, the oiler was empty and the pump was running dry, resulting in an underperforming pump.
The Vacuum regulator was also in the loft and the had not been checked for some months, to this end it was clogged with dust and was hunting excessively, the cheap vacuum gauge in the parlour was not recording this irregular fluctuation.
The access to the loft was a rickety old ladder, causing some concern for safety issues.
The moral of this is Out of Sight out of Mind!
When improving your Milking parlour consider
A Tank room
A Pump House
A Wash Room
Milking Parlour.
Access to equipment should always be safe, secure, clean and accessible.

Check your Cow’s Teats

Cows with dry skin on teats can produce skin damage
The problem with dry teat skin is  more bacteria thrives in  the cracks and can be painful. It has been known for a long time numbers of bacteria at the teat end is the biggest risk for a new mastitis cases. Dry skin is also painful, and pain can block oxytocin resulting in under-milked quarters leaving the milking parlour. It can also result in hyperkeratosis at the teat end, which heightens the risk of mastitis by interfering with streak canal closure and can create a place for bacteria to live around the teat end opening.
Dry, chapped teat skin most often has weather to blame. Other causes can include
Wet bedding. Recycled sand or manure can be higher in moisture than other bedding types.
High humidity poor ventilated sheds.
Lime with other bedding materials. It has the potential to dry-out and damage teat and udder skin and so must be adequately covered with chopped straw or sawdust, but is very useful in drying-out soiled wet patches on cubicle beds and controlling bacterial levels.
Pre dips with high parts per million (ppm) of free chlorine. These will strip the oils in the skin.
Post dips with low levels of skin moisturizers. These are cheaper alternatives used  to save money.
If you suspect your cows to have dry chapped skin use a post dip formulated with the correct skin moisturizing ingredients for your cows. Most dips do not have the exact ingredients on the label find a post dip that is well formulated with a combination of ingredients that will heal your herd’s teat health problems quickly and completely.

Are your Cows Happy during Milking

A recent visit to observe cow behaviour during milking and visible changes in teat condition immediately after milking had been noted. The conclusion is probably related to a combination of milking conditions and equipment.
The milking machine was compliant with the 2007 ISO standard.
An examination of the orifice of all teats of the cows was made during the visit for teat orifice hyperkeratosis also completeness of milking was noted
During the on farm observations it was also noted that milking cluster removal timings at the end of milking increased agitation of the cows seen as fidgeting, unsuccessful attempts to remove the cluster by kicking during this period.
The milking machine is 3 years old no adjustments had been made to the equipment during this time .
The next step is to carry out a milking – time test.


“What is the importance of  fore-stripping,”  Since the very first milk has the highest SCC, you may usually see a slight SCC increase if  fore-stripping is discontinued . it also aids in  early detection  of clinical mastitis , again contributing to higher SCC. “Cows with clinical mastitis that go undetected may also have a higher chance of developing chronic subclinical mastitis.

This practice should be done before attaching the milking unit  to help stimulate milk let-down, and increase milk flow rate. Some people prefer to fore-strip each quarter before the pre- dip is applied and the teats are wiped clean and dry. Others prefer to do the fore-stripping after the cleaning process is done
Both ways work equally well in realizing the benefits of fore-stripping. Several field trials have shown that fore-stripping will increase milk flow rate and decrease unit on-time. Some studies have also shown that the total amount of milk removed at each milking may be increased when cows were fore-stripped. Fore-stripping has the potential in many dairy operations to improve milk quality and teat end health, reduce the rate of new IMIs, and improve parlour performance.

I would suggest no less than four squirts from each quarter .

Autumn Mastitis

This autumn is leaving dairy herds struggling with seasonal mastitis incidences, Mastitis cases occur to varying degrees in different herds as you try to reduce the risk. However, this season, cases of mastitis suddenly increase, or in some low incidence herds they recur, in autumn,

Stocking density,Warm, humid weather, Flies, Environmental pathogens.

Autumn becomes a struggle  with high somatic cell counts and mastitis cases. These cows are exposed to the conditions above , dirty gate ways don’t help during  this transition period . Strep uberis, coliform  also e.coli.  environmental pathogens are  mainly responsible.

Strep. uberis causes both clinical and subclinical mastitis, that may be easy to cure or very difficult. It can be spread both in the parlour, during milking times and picked up through the dry period. Clinical cases can be very persistent and difficult to cure and subclinical cases can even go unnoticed, but in both cases infection in one cow poses a risk of infection to another cow; once present it can easily spread throughout the herd.

E coli is the most prevalent environmental pathogen causing mastitis in dairy cows.
It is present in large numbers in faeces, meaning that dirty bedding and lying in yards are big risk factors. E coli can cause a range of mastitis presentations, from a simple clinical mastitis that self-cures, through to toxic mastitis.
A “simple” E coli mastitis results after rapid multiplication of the bacteria in the mammary gland. This results in large migration of white bloods cells into the quarter, raising the somatic cell count and promptly eliminating the infection.

Coliform bacteria are normal inhabitants of soil and the intestines of cows. They accumulate
and multiply in manure, polluted water, dirt, and contaminated bedding. Research has shown
that coliform numbers of 1,000,000 or more per gram of bedding increase the likelihood of an
udder infection and clinical mastitis.

optimise cleanliness of the cows as they come in for milking pre dipping prior to unit placement may help .The warm, wet autumn increased wet areas around gateways and flies may be a factor, perfect for the increase and growth of pathogens

If cows are in at night , grazed in day , improve bedding of cubicles use lime to dry beds keep passage ways clean .Faeces tends to be looser, which means the cows’ legs and udders are dirtier, improve feeding .



Traditionally, the recommendation to dairy producers has been to “milk ALL cows as completely as possible at every milking.” This recommendation has been revised due to recent research and field experience. It is impossible to milk a cow completely dry; there will always be some milk in the udder even after “complete” milk out because she is constantly making milk.
Overmilking is a matter of concern because it may affect teat condition and udder health. In the past, it was believed that all milk needed to be removed from the udder to maximize milk yield. However, breeding for high milk yields has provided cows with a high alveolar capacity. Due to this, cows are more efficient as milk producers.
Overmilking starts when the milk flow to the teat cistern is less than the flow out of the teat canal. Mouthpiece chamber vacuum typically increases during overmilking and fluctuations become larger. If the vacuum in the teat cistern is higher than beneath the teat end for short periods of time, the reverse pressure gradients across the teat canal may increase bacterial invasion of the teat cistern. Reverse pressure gradients occur only during milking of empty teats (Rasmussen et al., 1994), and overmilking will therefore increase the possibility of bacteria entering the teat. Teat end health is also greatly affected by overmilking. Hyperkeratosis of the teat is often experienced in herds with long unit on times.

Adjustable Speed Vacuum Pump Controller

VSD controllers can meet or exceed the vacuum stability of conventional regulators if they are installed and adjusted optimally. However, installation and adjustment of VSD systems does require greater skill on the part of the installer than conventional regulation systems. “you have been Warned ” The reduction in noise levels achieved by VSD control systems is substantial. Noise reduction is achieved by reducing the noise generated by the vacuum pump (by running at lower speed) ( Some vacuum pumps are not effective at low speeds , drilling a hole in the airline is NOT the solution )as well as eliminating the considerable noise generated by the air admission of conventional regulators. This noise reduction makes for a much better work environment for both cows and humans. The energy saved by using VSD controllers is considerable, averaging 56%, with up to 87% savings observed on some systems. VSD controllers also reduce the starting current of large electric motors, which may be a significant advantage when operated on some power distribution systems.

Having excessive leaks from your machine will increase pump speed and reduce the benefits of savings and vacuum stability .

The Milking Machine and Mastitis

Some key performance indicators for milking systems and milking performance

Milking Machine
Average claw vacuum
35-42 kPa
Maximum claw vacuum fluctuation
10 kPa
Average milk flow
2.3 – 4.1 kgs/min
Use of manual mode of milking (when automatic detachers are used)
5% of milkings
“D” phase of the pulsation cycle
At least 150-200 ms preferably 250 ms
Milking Prep
Premilking teat dip contact time
30 seconds before dry wipe
Prep-lag time (time from stimulation to milking unit attachment)
60 to 120 seconds
Milking unit attachment time
3 to 8 minutes (depending on milk production) not to exceed 8 mins
teats with at least 75% coverage with post-milking teat dip ,Cover the whole teat.

Research: Bedding Types and Milk Quality

Research at the University of Wisconsin indicated that large Wisconsin dairy farms that used inorganic bedding had greater productivity and better milk quality compared with herds using other bedding types.
Fresh and recycled sand and forestry byproducts (such as sawdust and wood shavings) are the most common types of bedding materials used on large Wisconsin dairy farms, but a small number of the largest herds use recycled manure products. As compared with organic bedding materials, use of sand bedding has been associated with reduced exposure to bacteria. Recycling bedding on-farm may provide economic opportunities for dairy producers. However, some recycled bedding materials (such as manure and recycled sand) harbor greater number of bacteria. The greater numbers of bacteria have been associated with increased numbers of bacteria on teats of cows exposed to these materials

Choosing the Right Bedding Type to Reduce Environmental Mastitis

Bacterial exposure at the teat end is a primary source of exposure to potential mastitis pathogens. Reducing this exposure is an important aspect of controlling environmental mastitis. It is especially important reduce exposure to Gram negative bacteria (such as coliforms) because these bacteria often result in increased clinical cases of mastitis even if the SCC of the herd is low. Since teats become contaminated with environmental bacteria through contact, choosing the right type of bedding for your herd is critical. Teats may be in direct contact with bedding materials for 12 to 14 hours per day, making bedding a primary reservoir for environmental pathogens.
When a cow lies down, her udder and teats come into contact with whatever she is lying on. The type of bedding and how that bedding is kept clean are critical issues for control. The ideal bedding for limiting environmental mastitis is a clean inorganic material. If kept clean, sand allows urine to drain down away from the cow, and is less likely to have bacteria growing in it than an organic bedding. However, sand can be expensive and it is more difficult to eliminate the feces-spoiled waste, compared with organic forms.

The primary forms of organic beddings used today are sawdust and straw. In addition to straw, other types of plant materials from wastage of crop harvesting have been used and some are still used (such as corn cobs). Organic beddings soak up fluids from urine, but also are good media for bacterial growth. Feces-spoiled sawdust or straw can be a major source of environmental pathogens for causing mastitis. In addition, green sawdust from uncured wood can harbor some types of Klebsiella bacteria, even before it becomes soiled with feces.
Large amounts of bedding have also been obtained from mechanical liquid-solid separation of manure on some farms in the West. Yet the Midwestern climate is not as arid and the risk of increased mastitis increases in bedding that contains more moisture. Research data on the use of manure solids as bedding material for dairy cows, milk quality on farms using solids, the chemical and bacteriological characteristics of solids, and methods of obtaining solids for bedding in the Midwest are still underway. Though, it appears that excellent cow preparation at milking time, sanitation of milking equipment, cow hygiene, adequate dry cow housing, very low bedding moisture, and bedding/stall management are critical in maintaining excellent udder health when using recycled manure solids for bedding and making it work. These practices are important when using any type of bedding and even more so with recycled manure solids.