A visit to a client who had made small but significant
changes to both his milking equipment and milking routine based on advice from an
engineer had exposed some milking efficient and mastitis risks that he had been
A change to a different liner, a small change to system
vacuum and a change in the milking routine to ensure that teats were
disinfected much sooner after cup removal in his 16 / 32 herringbone were the
key alterations that had been made.
Some weeks after he had made these changes, I was requested
to undertake a milking time test to warrant that the changes had actually
resulted in a reduced risk of mastitis infections and improved milking efficiency.
Teat end damage had been especially significant, it was
important to assess and see the results of teat scoring at this milking visit,
the teats were blue and significantly teat condition was poor
However, it wasn’t very far into milking when we realised
that something was terribly wrong!
The first group of cows had been principally uneasy – cows
were swishing their tails, stomping their feet, and units were kicked off. Getting
units attached onto the cows had become a nightmare and the milkers were
becoming irate and needless to say unhappy!
It was quite clear the cows were not content and the milkers
The cows were not flowing through the parlour and once the
units were attached and aligned it wasn’t long before they were on the floor.
What was the cause of the sudden onset of this behaviour? Poorly
installed milking equipment and advice!
The milkers had noticed over the last few weeks that the
machine was irritating the cows, but obviously the equipment had just been
installed and it was thought to be perfect for milking, and the number kick offs
escalated dramatically, to the point that at this milking the units were being
kicked of every other cow
However the dairy farmer had neglected to tell me that he
had asked the engineer several times to rectify the problem, with the wise
words of the cows will get used to the units
Significant changes had been made with a new type and bore
of milking liner and an alteration of the milk and rest phase of the pulsation
along with a drop in the vacuum level, reducing the vacuum level extended the
unit on time and the cows did not like it plus a wide rest phase increased the
compression and the teat meatus was becoming damaged causing irritation and
The teat cistern was also compressed causing poor milk flow
due to narrow bore of the liner.
The dairy farmer had been told that small bore liners would
reduce liner slip and that a wider rest phase and reduction of vacuum level
would be kinder to the cow’s teats.
The Farmer received my dynamic milking time report it stated
he had 70 percent milking efficiency
I explained the reason for this reference was to still
further reduce mastitis and maintain milk quality; farmers need to keep milking
equipment working correctly. However, milking efficiency should be considered
from two other viewpoints, the amount of time the milking cluster is attached
to the udder (unit on time) and the percent of unit on time that milk is
flowing at or near maximum. When milk isn’t flowing while the unit is attached,
it is not only unproductive, but more importantly, damages the teat tissue,
which could increase the risk of mastitis and decrease milk yield
A lot of dairy farms have their milking equipment tested and
maintained on a routine basis. Although proper equipment function is necessary
for milking efficiency, it does not necessarily guarantee it. Two managing
areas that could lead to poor milking efficiency are milking routines that
don’t achieve consistent milk let down and over milking. Either one of these
problems can leave cows “high and dry” for a period of time and expose teats to
high vacuum levels. Poor milk let down or what is commonly called bimodal
During teat stimulation before milking, nerves carry an
electric signal to the brain. The brain then releases oxytocin into the blood
and then to the udder. It takes about 1 to 2 minutes for oxytocin levels to
increase in blood to optimally contract muscle cells around the milk ducts,
which then squeeze the milk down toward the teats. The two important points
about this oxytocin release are enough teat stimulation (at least 10 seconds of
actual physical touching) and the duration of the lag time, that is, the time
interval between when teats are first stimulated until the cluster is attached.
Unfortunately, with increasing herd size, the number of cows that can be milked
through the parlour per hour is often identified as one of the choke points of
herd capacity. Thus, parlour efficiency is emphasized at the expense of milking
Rough handling shouting and general lack of understanding of
cows will lead to Adrenalin release.
Most modern milking machines have huge effective reserves so
fall-off vacuum is not an issue , even when two units are placed at one time
the vacuum on the adjacent cluster is stable ,
Milking machine equipment has evolved so too has the
operator who needs to understand the factors of the milking cycle.
The entrance of the udder is known as the streak canal or
teat canal. It is surrounded by a band
of muscle tissue that keeps the canal closed.
The cavity within the teat is known as the teat sinus. It is separated from the udder cistern by a
ring of tissue known as the annular ring.
Canals connect to the udder cistern like the branches of a tree and
terminate in tiny circular areas known as alveoli which secrete milk.
Defence mechanisms of the streak canal or teat canal
1. Smooth muscle
sphincter surrounding the teat canal inhibits bacterial closure. Because the teat canal lumen can remain
dilated for up to 2 hours after milking
2. Keratin, a waxy
substance derived from the teat canal lining partially occludes the lumen of
the teat canal and inhibits bacterial penetration
3. Somatic Cells are
the most important natural defence mechanism to infection. Leukocytes (mostly PMN, polymorph nuclear
neutrophils) function by phagocytosing and killing bacteria. They may reach in the millions.
4. Antibodies and
other soluble factors in milk. They coat
bacteria and enhance PMN engulfment.
They also interfere with bacterial adhesion to tissues, reducing
multiplication and neutralizing toxins.
So how does your cow establish an infection?
1. The inherent
virulence of the bacterial species is often associated with is ability to adhere
to mammary epithelium and remain in the gland during lactation when the udder
is periodically flushed. Strep Ag and
Staph aureus adhere well. E. coli does
not adhere well but multiplies rapidly.
2. If bacteria are
eliminated by leukocytes, the infection is cleared!
3. Bacteria initially
affect tissues lining the large milking collecting ducts and cisterns. They enter small ducts and alveolar areas of
the gland by multiplication and via milk currents.
4. Bacteria produce
toxins and irritants that cause swelling and death of alveoli. This results in the release of substances
that increase blood vessel permeability and attract PMN to the affected area.
It seems one of dairy farming most neglected area is the dry cow’s with an added frustration of a mastitis infection.one clinical mastitis case alone is shown to cost £350 during the first 30 days in milk.
To prevent mastitis during the dry period, you should first
understand the two high-risk period cows can contract an infection
Immediately after dry-off
Right after a cow stops being milked, the udder will become
engorged, and her quarters may leak milk. The teats are also no longer being
dipped two to three times a day, and bacteria are not being flushed out from
milking, making your cows vulnerable to mastitis.
At dry-off, farmers will habitually use an antibiotic to clear up any remaining infections from the previous lactation and to prevent new infections that may occur in the dry cowshed or environment .
Mastitis treatment during the dry period generally results
in higher cure rates than during lactation, and it’s the most effective time to
treat a subclinical infection.
Ensure the dry cow shed is cleaned and dry, passages are scraped twice daily, beds are cleaned daily, plenty of clean fresh water, think about you stocking limit,
The end of the dry period going into
the next lactation
A cow’s udder will start to develop and produce colostrum
near the end of the dry period. Once again, her udder will start to fill, and
teats may leak. However, now the treatments that were used shortly after
dry-off are below what we call the “minimum inhibitory concentration” to be
effective against bacteria. Few antibiotics will provide full protection for
the entire dry period.
Teat sealants can play a valuable role in defending against
mastitis throughout dry-off. They provide a sterile, antibiotic-free physical
barrier between the udder and its environment. Sealants also work well in
conjunction with antibiotic therapy.
Internal teat sealants have been designed to last across the
entire dry period and simulate a cow’s natural first line of defence, the
keratin plug; keratin seals the teat end against harmful bacteria. But we need
to ensure internal sealants are used properly. The teat end should be
thoroughly sanitized before infusion. Without proper hygiene and preparation,
organisms present on the teat end may be forced into the udder and can cause
infection, especially if gram-negative bacteria are introduced.
During administration the area where the teat joins the
udder should be pinched so the sealant is only applied into the teat cistern.
Contact your supplier to introduce an external teat sealant,
which could last several days.
The National Mastitis Council’s Recommended Mastitis Control
Program suggests using a teat sealant on dry cows exposed to a high level of
Even with the best management practices in place, mastitis
infections after calving do happen
There are a number of resources available for producers
looking to improve or refine their dry cow mastitis protocols. The National
Mastitis Council is a global organization dedicated to mastitis control and
milk quality. Its website (nmconline.org) offers helpful
A recent farm visit the Dairy farmer was complaining about
elevated somatic cell counts long-suffering to the fact that it was never going
to change on his farm.
This evaluation was conducted on one farm. Each farm is diverse
with different procedures.
Why have you never had consistently low somatic cell count
(SCC)? You tried everything to bring your SCC down.
You asked consultants to look at your records and
facilities. You use bucket fulls of hydrated lime, and the most expensive sanitizing
solutions. You bed with sawdust. During the summer months the cows are clean,
yet the SCC is on the margin of a huge deduction.
You have changed teat dips, changed your prepping procedure,
you started stripping every cow. You can spend a shed load off money to buy the
best and nothing seems to help.
You have been told to stop spraying the floors while cows
were in the parlour, still no change. It comes to a point where you think this is
as good as it gets so have you given up. What changed? It’s pretty simple start
with the basics. No water. At all. Wash your hands as needed, and if a cow
literally poops directly on you, you spray it or scrape it away. But while cows
are in the parlour, don’t hose anything.
For the first few days you might have a panic attack.
Everything is dirty, and it might drive you crazy.
You might find that you are drier and cleaner. If you see a particularly large clump of manure right where you want to put my hand, use a dirty milking towel to clean it off.
The best part? It took a while for the SCC to drop, but it eventually did. The better part? You treat a lot less mastitis. We’ve always talked about how water is the perfect carrier for bacteria never wash units or the walk ways while the cows are in the parlour
Yet most farms I go to still spray water around the cows
before after and even during milking
The milkers are wet through after the milking. take a look at yourself are you soaking wet ?
The easy response is we have done it like this for years,
has it worked?
The first questions that must be answered in order to make balanced
decisions about the type and size of milking parlour for a dairy farm are:
What is the desired milking routine? The amount of time required to complete the pre-milking routine on each cow determines the number of milking units and milking stalls that each operator can use effectually. If you want excellent milking routines (teat and udder sanitation, effective stimulation, appropriate prep-lag times) in the parlour, it must be sized to encourage the preferred outcome. A parlour that is too big will encourage the operators to take short cuts and not implement the complete milking routine. A parlour that is too small will result in bored workers and early unit attachment.
What question should you be asking your yourself?
Parlours should be sized to complete the actual milking in 1hour 30 minutes and should allow for future herd expansion. yes someone that milks a thousand cows , however they are normally batched in 250 plus
Herd sizes will continue to grow in the UK. The average herd
size is now in excess of 100 cows.
This has increased steadily year on.
Against this trend many farmers are milking in unsuitable
parlours and need to invest. With high labour costs, even problems recruiting
labour, and higher yielding cows, the recent fashion has been to install
milking parlours with a greater number of units to be handled by one operator
Installing a new parlour is an expensive, once in a
generation investment and should be planned very carefully.
To remain in business do you need to invest in a new parlour?
What new parlour you will require?
Modern parlour designs have been developed for increased
herd size and integrate automation in the herringbone, auto-tandem and rotary configurations.
How many cows can I milk per hour comfortably? , can I expand my parlour in the
future? , will my cows be comfortable? It is still shocking that cows are tight
in the parlour with little concern for their movement
Who will be operating the parlour? How many per unit ?The skill level and motivation level of the people in the parlour will determine how efficiently the milking routine will be applied.
Will the parlour be used as a place to provide special treatment to cows? Some parlour types are more suited to providing individual cow care than others.
What is the expected production level, milking interval and cow grouping strategy? These factors will influence the average amount of time that milking units stay on cows.
What sort of work environment do you want to provide for the operators? Some parlour types are wide some are narrow , rotary parlours have static operators , speed of the rotary how fast will it run, are the units coming off half way around , long herringbone parlours take their toll on area covered , do you want territorial milking
With the answers to these questions in hand let’s continue
to look at the main types of milking parlours in use today.
Side opener parlours usually are located on the end of a
holding area with two entrance lanes similar to herringbone and parallel parlours.
A gate at the entrance point between the holding area and the milking parlour
holds the cow until an empty stall is ready. The parlour may be organized to
allow the cows to exit in return lanes on either side of the operator area or
cross over to a single return lane on one side. The use of a single return lane
(compared to dual returns) reduces not only the cost of the parlour itself but
also the facilities to catch and/or sort cows when leaving the parlour. A
single return lane does not slow down cow flow in this parlour type because
cows are released individually.
Side opening, tandem and in line parlours handle cows one at
a time so a slow-milking cow does not delay the end of milking and release of
other cows in the parlour. These parlours are well suited to farms that take
special care about observing individual cows and practice individual cow care
in the parlour. The throughput of these parlours is less affected by variations
in cow milk out times the number of stalls in a side-opening parlour is usually
limited to 4 to 8 for one operator and 8 to 12 for two operators. Stall lengths
quickly add up to excessive walking time and difficulty in keeping track of
distant milking machines. These parlours have received a recent return to
interest because of extra computer controlled automation. If auto detachers are
used, the detacher can signal that a unit has been removed and the cow
automatically let out, the gate closes and another cow is allowed to enter the
This parlour type has a high stall use rate (7 to 8
cows/stall/hour) which makes it an economical choice for farms using a high
level of automation and technology and is well suited to farms with up to about
200 cows that practice a high level of management. This parlour type is not
easily expandable, but if designed properly can be converted into a herringbone
or parallel parlour with more milking stalls in the future.
Herringbone parlours are the most common parlour type in the
UK, Cows stand on an elevated platform in an angled or herringbone facing away
from the operator area. This exposes enough of the back half of the cow to
allow access to milk her from the side and room for an arm type detacher and supplementary
Herringbone parlours are located on the end of a rectangular
collection area allowing cows to enter single file as a group directly into
either side of the parlour. Once milked the cows exit single file by walking
straight ahead and out of the parlour. In most layouts the cows make either a
180-degree turn down a return lane back past the holding area or a 90-degree
turn and out a side door or across the parlour to a return lane on the other
side. Parlours with more than 12 stalls on a side benefit from rapid exit
stalls to speed up the exiting process. In this case the cows walk straight
away from the operator area in to a wide exit area. Normal design has a return
lane on either side so cows go directly from the exit area past the holding
area. However, cows on one side can be directed across to a single return lane
on the other side.
Cows stand on an elevated platform at a 90-degree angle
facing away from the operator area. Access to the udder is between the rear
legs, which reduces visibility of the front quarters and can make unit
attachment and udder user sanitation more difficult. This configuration makes
the walking distance shorter than in a herringbone parlour. The cow platform is
wider than a herringbone parlour to accommodate the length of the cow. Stall
fronts use small gates to position each cow. To assure that each position is
filled in order, a series of interlocking fronts prevent a position from being
used until the one next to it has been occupied. Most parallel parlours use
rapid exit stall fronts and use dual return lanes. The stall spacing in this parlour
type is critical. It is also more difficult to balance milking units on the
udder in this parlour. Cows can have foot issues as they turn on a steep angle.
Swing over parlours the cows are placed at a greater angle
from the operator (about 70 degrees) than in traditional herringbones but less
than 90 degrees as in a parallel. This configuration usually eliminates the
need for front positioners as used in a parallel. The sharp angle does not
expose enough of the cow’s body to allow milking from the side, however.
Procedures and equipment developed for milking between the hind legs are used. Milk
lines are typically mounted as “mid-level” or above the head of the operator
resulting in a lift from the udder to milk line of about 1 meter.
The width of the pit can vary between 5-8 feet, depending on
the length of parlour and number of operators. Cows can exit single file to the
front end of the parlour or to the sides of the parlour using a rapid exit type
front. Maximum cow movement efficiency is attained when cows walk straight in
from the holding area and exit straight out, without turning. It is recommended
that the cow platform be extended 2-3 cows beyond the pit into the holding area
to position these cows behind the last cow to be milked An adjustable breast
rail allows adjustment of the line of cows to position the rump up against the
rump rail to position the udder as close as possible to the operator pit. The
rump rail can be a straight rail or an “S” rail and is usually located directly
above the edge of the cow platform. A hock rail is placed approximately 8
inches below the rump rail to prevent cows kicking backward and stepping off
the platform. A manure splashguard can be placed above the rump rail to direct
manure to the platform instead of the pit.
The primary advantage of a swing parlour is that fewer
milking units are needed and stall designs are simpler, both of which reduce
the initial cost of the parlour. The main disadvantage is this parlour type is clutter
and (especially for a slow milking cow and/or cow requiring special attention.
This parlour type is not suited to the use of support devices and automatic
detachers are typically mounted above the milk line.
The advantage of the rotary parlour is that the cow movement functions are largely automated, freeing the operators to tasks more directly associated with milking. Rotary parlours typically require three operators: one for unit attachment, one to apply pre milking teat dip and one to tend to any problems occurring while cows are traveling around (reattach units, tend to liner lips, etc.). This parlour type is not expandable. And the capital cost is usually higher per stall than for non-moving parlours. Because of these characteristics, rotary parlours are best suited to larger herds (>600 cows). One advantage of a rotary parlour is that the work routine very territorial and constant. Milking procedures will in general be much more consistent and efficient in a large rotary parlour (60 stalls) than in an equivalently sized herringbone or parallel parlour (double 30). Rotary parlours usually use a ‘face-in’ configuration and are subject to all of the same disadvantages of a parallel milking parlour. It is more difficult to provide any special cow care on a rotary platform than a static parlour. “
Cows should not be forced to stand for longer than is absolutely necessary, particularly in collecting yards, and where herds are separated into groups for milking, any opportunities to manage these groups in such a manner that standing times can be reduced should be investigated, so that cows do not have to stand too long with extra pressure on their hooves
When cows raise their heads up over the backs of other cows, it is an indication that there is not enough space available and additional pressure will be put on the feet through cows pushing and being less able to place their feet comfortably
Backing gates, while making a significant labour-saving contribution, need to be used carefully – particularly the heavy-framed type that work by pushing cows by force – as often the cows standing at the back of the yard are either already suffering from mobility problems that will be exacerbated by being forced to move, or are more nervous and at greater risk of injury from slipping.
The latest dairy cow study has never been more exciting from
The Dairy Industry is growing fast because some of the dairy
farms are using latest technologies. These verities of technologies are planned
to increase effectiveness and better cow management; along with increasing farm
profitability and productivity.
However the latest research paper is a simple as can be, now
I know a lot of progressive farmers would say well we knew that any way, I can
assure some farmers are not and have never been aware and to publish a paper to
reiterate that a study undertaken can have a valued result on you cows and milk
So what’s it all about, it’s quite simple keep the routine consistent
keep cow’s calm, adrenalin secretion prior to milk harvesting blocks milk
release and reduces yield
The study found that a consistent routine will aid good let down,
oxytocin release and calm cows increased yield up to 20 %
Bimodal milking is poor milking efficiency, cows that were
excited and in fear, figures showed a reduction in milk yield.
So keeping your cows calm stress free increases milk production,
why not give it a try, create an optimal milking environment
Cows are a creature of habit consistency is the key trying
to hurry and exciting cows has a detrimental effect on milk harvesting.
The study focused on the milkers, cow entry and cow exit
The study showed that different preparation resulted in poor
let down different milkers with different attitudes affected milk harvest,
shouting and whistling affected cow entry
Forcing cows into the milking parlour
And forcing cows out had an impact on cow stress.
The milking equipment was checked and adjusted to cause as
little distress and pain.
Milking systems have progressed over the years with the
introduction of new technology and automation however the principle of milk
removal from the teat has changed very little
This has provided the dairy farmer with improvements in
productivity by reducing the labour involved in the milking process.
Unfortunately there are some basic functional problems with the milking
equipment that causes poor milking performance and reduced milk quality.
Evidence is provided of why conventional milking systems in
use today do not work well. It explains why cows do not milk out well, why
their teats are irritated and what causes liner crawl and incomplete milk out.
There have been many attempts in the past 40 years to
improve the performance of conventional milking systems. The known performance
problems include liner slip, teat crawl, teat damage, teat irritation/pain and
incomplete milking. These attempts have produced numerous inventions by the
major milking equipment manufacturers.
When there is no milk flow biphasic milking phase and end
milk phase the teat becomes flaccid and its frictional engagement with the milking
liner less stable, whereby the teat tends to be sucked deeper into the teat
cup. Thus, each teat cup crawls on the teat towards the udder and thereby
causes strangulation of the milk conducting interior of the teat close to the
udder, so that milking becomes more difficult and finally the milk flow
completely ceases in spite of the fact that some milk still remains in the
Various attempts have been made to improve the effects of
vacuum on the teat by carefully shaping the teat cup and liner to support the
teat as well as possible including fluted .square or triangular liners
A milking machine exposes the cow’s teat tips to a
relatively strong milking vacuum, usually about 40-50 kPa. (40-50 kPa is 11.8
to 14.8 in Hg) along with liner compression this strong milking vacuum and
force means that the teats could be in pain initially during the milking, when
the milk flow is low or non-existing, This may lead to that the hormone
adrenaline is secreted and makes continued milk extraction difficult.
A high milking vacuum is needed primarily for ensuring a
safe attachment of the teat cups to the teats and, secondary, for achieving a
rapid milking and a high milk yield. However, a disadvantage of such a high milking
vacuum could distress the teats, especially at the beginning and at the end of
the milking interval when there is no or insignificant milk flow through one or
A low milking vacuum while it is safe to say the pressure on
the teat is less it may cause slow incomplete milking due to impaction off milk
on the teat end, this in turn will cause distress and release adrenalin the cow
stops milk release.
Milking Machines are not perfect at the moment its all we have.
Having your milking equipment to its optimised performance is essential, training staff to understand the consequences of poor milkability should be a fundamental objective.
Milking machine construction and performances may be
directly related to the milking ability of animals in order to milk quickly,
completely and gently, to maintain healthy udders and to produce milk with a
high quality level.
Milking machines are rapidly changing in size and design
with the increase in herd size. Milking parlours on large farms operate for
more than 15 h day with cows milked three times a day. While no one design is
perfect, the following factors will impact milking parlour design and style:
It is often assumed that the milking machine is working
properly and operated correctly. But it’s risky to think that as long as the
motors run and milk flows through the pipeline, everything is correct.
This may or may not be true. The two major problems with milking systems are malfunctioning equipment and operator mismanagement.
The problems can occur individually or concurrently. In
either case, the dairy farmer increases his chances of lowering milk production
and, ultimately, lowering income. Research shows a high connection between the
incidence of mastitis and poorly functioning or poorly operated milking
equipment. Mastitis is not a new disease. It was recognized and studied even
before the milking machine was invented. Because the dairy industry became more
reliant on efficient milking operations, the milking machine is now used on
nearly every dairy farm. In many cases, when a dairy herd’s incidence of
mastitis increases, the first area to be targeted is the milking equipment. The
milking system can be adjusted or adapted to function properly, but other
factors can contribute to this problem.
Raising the working vacuum level or even lowering the vacuum level can have catastrophic consequences making adjustments to your milking machine without understanding what happens at the claw is naïve
Cows are usually milked twice daily. Milking twice a day
yields at least 40% more milk
Than once a day… Increasing milking frequency to 3 x day
increases milk yield by up to
20% (range 5-20%). The increase is usually highest for first
lactation cow and declines
As the cow gets older. The most likely reasons for increased
milk production is milking
Residual milk can be defined as the amount of milk left in
the udder after milking is
Completed. About 10-20% of total milk is left in the udder
as residual milk.
The dry period effect is related to body condition of the
cow at calving. Cows in
Good body condition at calving produce higher milk yield
during the following lactation
Than in cows in thin body condition at calving.
Evaluate the herd for a high incidence of subclinical or
clinical mastitis. Check individual milk samples from all milking cows using cell
count. The average somatic cell count should be under 300,000. In the whole
herd, 10% or less of the cows should have a positive 2 or higher CMT on a
composite of four quarters or positive 3 in one or more quarters on quarter
samples. At least 70% of the cows on a somatic cell counting program should
show a linear score of 1 and 2. Teat end health may be a problem if more than
20% of the teats show evidence of erosion, eversion, cuts, or sores. Check both
the milking system and milking practices. Culture milk samples and run
sensitivity tests when warranted. Establish both pre- and post-teat dipping and
routine dry cow treatments with recommended products. Nutritional parameters to
check are current levels of protein, zinc, selenium, and vitamins A and E.
Examine and screen the ration or individual feeds for moulds and mycotoxins.
Underfeeding grain to fresh cows can lower peak milk
production. Gradually increase grain intake from about 1% of body weight to
about 2% of body weight by two weeks after calving.
Complications around freshening time, such as mastitis,
metritis, ketosis, and displaced abomasum can impact peak milk. Improper dry
cow nutrition, especially during the close-up period, can have an effect. Check
the transition diets and feeding practices carefully, as well as the early dry
Debilitating conditions like feet and leg problems, lung
damage from pneumonia or lungworms, and intestinal damage from severe enteritis
or parasitism can lower peak milk.
Adequate forage dry matter intake and effective fibre are
needed to maintain normal rumen function and milk production. Cows should
receive a minimum of 1.4% of their body weight in forage dry matter. Forage and
total neutral detergent fibre intake should be maintained at minimum levels of
0.80% and 1.20% of body weight, respectively.
Serious ration deficiencies or imbalances in energy,
protein, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulphur, and salt can contribute to
reduced peak milk.
When anaemia is severe or persistent, production can be
adversely affected. Possible causes include deficiencies in protein, iron,
copper, cobalt, or selenium. External or internal parasitism can cause severe anaemia.
Serious over-conditioning of cows during late lactation or
the dry period may reduce total feed intake at next freshening. It may also
increase the incidence of metabolic problems at calving, especially ketosis.
Any restriction in feed or water supply will result in a
drop in milk production. The most
Dramatic effect is brought about by shortage of water as the
cow has no means of storing
Water. Withholding access to water or insufficient supply of
water for few hours will
Result in a rapid drop in milk yield.
Overcrowding animals in a free-stall operation can limit
production. If cows stand excessively, this can cause fatigue stress and may
affect milk production.
Stray voltage should be examined when other obvious factors
Check records to see if dry cows have had a dry period of
seven to eight weeks.
Testing your milking machine is one of the most important
requirements on a modern dairy farm; part of the milking machine test is
fall-off and vacuum recovery especially with advanced vacuum on demand software
or variable speed vacuum installations it is essential that these units are
working correctly and efficiently.
In older parlours with older vacuum pumps, these parlours
rarely past the test, milkers had to be careful to minimize the amount of air
being drawn through the claw as milking units were attached. Now, with better
technology and more advanced, higher capacity vacuum systems, units can be attached
much faster with less worry about air slippage.
Attaching milking units and ensuring those units hang correctly
under the udder during milking.
Modern milking machinery has huge vacuum reserves enabling
adjacent units to very rarely lose any vacuum.
Having greater vacuum capacity requires the correct vacuum
level ensuring little distress or teat damage
Some companies have no airflow at the claw until the unit is
attached aiding the milkers and reducing air loss to virtually nothing.
Milking system optimization not only leads to better overall
milk quality, but it’s also good for your cows and can have a positive impact
on employee attitude and performance.
While many farmers have a scheduled service program, they do
not always have their milking systems optimized – there is a huge difference.
There is also dissimilarity between having a system analysis conducted and
having a system working for your cows.
The milking system needs to be effective or well-designed.
No milking system is perfect, but we can strive to get as close as possible.
Everything from cow flow to the parlour and proper
pre-milking and post-milking routines should be evaluated. Are steps in place
to get cows in and out of the parlour as calmly and quickly as possible? Are
the cows staying clean to minimize the risk of mastitis?
Not all milking systems should be or can be optimized. For
example, attempting to improve the functionality of a poorly installed or
maintained system can yield few results, and often leads to other issues.
Milking faster when you have a poor air flow will cause cows to milk slower and
can result in udder health issues.