What is your Milking efficiency Score

Milking efficiency is the percent of unit on-time (cluster attached) that milk is flowing near maximum. If a milking unit is attached for 5 minutes during milking, and strong milk flow occurs for 4 minutes and 45 seconds, her milking efficiency is 95% (285/300 seconds). When milk isn’t flowing while the unit is attached, it is not only inefficient, but more importantly, it can lead to high vacuum on the teat, which damages teat tissue and thus increases the risk of mastitis and decreases milk yield.

There are two major problems that lead to poor milking efficiency: milking routines that resulted in delayed milk let down (bimodal 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. Producers should set herd goals for milking efficiency to help increase awareness of this concept for dairy farmers.

It is nearly impossible for a cow to be in full milk flow 100% of the time the cluster is attached. Often there is a slight delay in milk flow after unit attachment. Plus, depending on the settings for terminal flow and delay of the automatic take-offs, units will remain attached for brief periods of low milk flow at the end of milking. Also, milk let down will vary between cows despite consistent milking protocols. Thus, fresh cows, nervous heifers, or cows in estrus might deviate from the average. Nonetheless, if sound milking preparation is combined with timely cluster removal, most cows will be exposed to only brief periods of high mouthpiece chamber vacuum (the vacuum that surrounds the teat) during milking.

Milking efficiency is more than a number. More importantly, it can help draw attention to possible opportunities to improve teat health, mastitis control and milk production. The exposure of cows to bimodal milk let down and over milking varies between herds. If milking efficiency is low (<80%), this suggests milking practices, both before and at the end of milking, as well as equipment function, should be reviewed and evaluated.

You don’t need milking analysis equipment to get an idea of possible problems in milking dynamics. Simply watch milk flow into the cluster after attachment, or look at teats for rings or discoloration after the units come off. This is not unlike checking for the completeness of covering teats with a germicide after milking.

Top herds achieve the ideal goal of machine milking—the cluster is attached only while milk is flowing, which optimizes teat and udder health as well as milk harvest. What are your milking goals? k

Bactoscan failures

Bactoscan failures arise from one of four main causes:

Contaminated Plant: if the plant is not being sufficiently cleaned, then bacteria will survive between milking’s and begin to contaminate milk from the next milking. ‘Just 5ml of milk residue (teaspoon) can contain sufficient bacteria to cause a failure on thousands of litres of milk’ (Laven, 2016). This is the most common cause of bactoscan failures.

Mastitis: Mastitis, especially environmental pathogens is the second most common cause of bactoscan failure. The presence of Strep Uberis pathogens, even at a sub clinical level can cause cows to excrete large numbers of bacteria, resulting in high bactoscan results.

Refrigeration Failure: if milk fails to cool quickly to below 7˚c, it can cause bacteria within milk to multiply causing high bacterial counts.

Environmental Bacteria: Bacteria from mud, manure, feed and other sources can contaminate the teats. If teat preparation is not effective, the risk of contamination during milking when the cluster is put on is very high.

1) Plant cleanliness:

a) Make sure that the tepid water rinse after milking removes the majority of milk residues

b) The plant should be cleaned and disinfected after every milking and the tank should be rinsed and cleaned after every collection. The milk filter should be inspected and changed after every milking.

c) Ensure air lines are free from dust and milk-split liners area common cause of milk in air lines.

d) Regular inspection of the plant is essential to ensure there is no build-up of milk residues.

e) Check rubber wear regularly and replace it if it is cracked or perished.

3) Milking routine            

a) Wear rubber gloves and disinfect them regularly during milking.

b) Ensure clusters which fall or are kicked off during milking are clean before replacing.

c) Make sure units are placed on clean dry teats.

4) Bulk tank and Milking machine maintenance

a) Check that the temperature of the milk entering the tank is no more than180C, and that of the milk in the tank is below 70C within three hours of milking. This should be done at least 4 times per year

b) Maintain the milking machine in good working order. Testing at least once per year is essential.

Bulk tank analysis is a useful tool for examining and investigating the underlying causes of high SCC, mastitis incidence and milk hygiene problems

How Often is the Milking Machine ignored

One of the most often ignored areas on a dairy farm is the milking parlour. Even though it is used two or three times a day, it is often assumed to be working properly and operated correctly. But it’s perilous to think that as long as the motors run and milk flows through the pipeline, everything is perfect. This may or may not be true. The two major problems with milking systems are failing equipment and operator misuse.

The problems can occur at all times. The dairy farmer increases his chances of lowering milk production and, ultimately, lowering your income. Research shows a high link between the incidence of mastitis and poorly functioning or poorly operated milking equipment. Mastitis is not a new disease. It was documented and studied even before the milking machine were invented. Because the dairy industry became more reliant on efficient milking operations, the milking machine is now used on nearly every dairy farm in the UK. 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.

The milking system is only as good as the person who operates it. Even the best-designed system can perform poorly if operated incorrectly. Likewise, an inadequate system can produce satisfactory results with a skilled operator. A good combination of machine and operator means less issues and more milk in the bulk tank.

The correct way to milk cows should begin even before the milking unit is attached. Cows are creatures of habit. Handle cows in a relaxed, expected routine to avoid as much stress as possible. In the UK, most of the dairy cows are pastured. This means they must be rounded up before each milking. Dairy cows should never be run or herded.

Dairy cows respond best to an easy routine of entering and exiting the milking shed. A minimum of noise (such as yelling) and the absence of sticks and whips are indications of well- trained cows being treated properly. It is important for cows to be calm and undisturbed in the shed so oxytocin (the milk “let down” hormone) can work effectively. Be cautious not to subject cows to unnecessary stress. Any stress or pain experienced by the cow immediately before or during milking will cause adrenalin to be released, which interferes with the action of oxytocin. It is extremely important for operators to understand this principle to avoid milk production losses.

Because milking facilities have different designs (such as number of milking units, number of operators, use of automatic take-off, etc.), not all farms use exactly the same milking routine. Regardless of differences, the management program must include consistent milking times each day and the same basic milking procedure used by all operators for all cows at all times.

Why does Milk quality matter beyond milk price

Why does Milk quality matter beyond milk price. It can help secure your milk market and bring more money back to your business by reducing mastitis treatment costs and labour, along with milk withholding times. A healthier udder can also produce more milk.

The first step in achieving milk quality success is to know how your farm is performing. Appraise your milk quality goals. Ask yourself: How are you doing at achieving them? Is what you are doing consistent? Do you need to adapt your needs based on your herd’s performance?

If you don’t have goals, try to work with your team – including dairy equipment dealer – to document them and share with your employees.

When you establish your milk quality goals, make sure they are achievable. For example, if your intention is to try and reduce clinical mastitis rate less than 1 percent, you need to understand the cost saving reduced treatment savings and optimal milk production.

Having achievable goals is essential to understand your farm.

Milk quality key performance indicators

As you review or develop your milk quality goals, keep these industry key performance indicators (key performance indicators) in mind:

Bulk tank SCC: Develop a goal that makes sense for you and your farm, knowing the financial payback. A good goal to start with for bulk tank SCC is under 200,000 cells per millilitre. Most herds today are trying for less than 150,000.

Individual cow SCC: Track the percent of your herd under 200,000 cells per millilitre. Cows greater than 200,000 are considered sub clinically infected.

Percent clinical mastitis hospital cows: Less than 2 percent is a good goal; less than 1 percent is elite. Remember, every cow you can prevent from having a clinical case is saving you about £200.

Milking facility procedures: Define the milking routine procedures to achieve consistency in:

1 Stimulation and cleaning of cows

2 Optimal prep lag times for proper stimulation and milk let-down (goal: 90 to 120 seconds)

3 Unit alignments for proper milk harvest

4 Parlour cleaning protocols for hygienic milking

5 housing procedures for efficient cow flow to and from the milking facility

6 Clean stall beds and alleys

Once goals are reviewed or set, look at the key areas on your dairy that impact milk quality. Spring weather is unpredictable and throws a lot of inconsistencies our way. Which of these areas can you control to get consistency? How can you adapt your protocols and practices to maintain consistency?

Key areas to evaluate


Consider all housing areas including cubicle, bedded, calving pens, dry cows, heifer pens and pre-fresh pens. How clean and dry is the environment? Bedding dryness can vary greatly with changing weather. What are air quality and ventilation like? How clean are cows?

Your cows will tell you how comfortable they are in their housing. Keep in mind, at least 12 to 14 hours per day of lying time is ideal.


Consider taking swabs of the beds, use this information to assess the quality of bedding, watch and observe where the most prominent cows lie, if mastitis is an issue try to monitor the area where it is coming from.

Controlling bacteria in bedding is critical for the prevention of environmental mastitis. Keep bedding materials as dry as possible. Remember, the more time there is between adding fresh bedding, the higher the bacteria level. Well-maintained bedding can reduce bacteria exposure, prevent udder infections and reduce SCC.

Milking procedures and equipment

How clean are cow teats? How much bedding is stuck to the teats before udder prep? Are you using a pre-dip that kills your herd’s mastitis-causing organisms? Are the parlour and milking equipment clean? Have you cultured the udder towels? Are liner slips greater than 5 percent?

During milking, have a protocol in place to keep milking units clean. Dirty liner heads can put cows at risk of more mastitis. Here are some quick tips to keep milking units clean:

If using a teat scrubber make sure the team are aware if it fails, spraying water on cow’s udder without sanitation is a serious issue.

Focus on cleaning liner heads and keep the milking unit vent hole open

Keep units clean during milking and use a sanitizer hose when necessary “not just water “

Once you’ve completed a thorough review of these areas, adjust your protocols and routines to help improve your milk quality. Meet with your team to share the new goals and KPIs and determine how you all can work together to achieve them.

Communicating what’s going well and what could use some fine-tuning is essential for a team to work together to produce quality milk. Your team must be willing to make changes. Everyone involved should know their role and be willing to take ownership as you implement changes.

Set expectations by having a specific schedule of when tasks should take place – start of milking shift, start of each pen, wash time, etc. Schedules not only make everyone aware of the expectations, but they help keep the dairy running efficiently.

If you’re not already meeting with your employees regularly, consider having regular staff meetings. Meetings give your team the opportunity to communicate and have their voices heard. It also gives you the opportunity to review goals and KPIs and evaluate performance.

Remember Taking control of milk quality on your farm and having a plan to consistently manage it can result in more profitability. Work with your dealer’s milk quality and hygiene specialist to determine which milk quality evaluations can help bring more consistency to your farm H

The University of Minnesota Extension Dairy Team

Dairy farmers are no realising that lower somatic cell counts (SCC) in their bulk tanks is the future, but there is always room for improvement, even on the best operations.

The University of Minnesota Extension Dairy Team offers these ways that dairy producers can further improve their milk quality.

They are:

1. Keep cows clean and dry at all times. This assures clean teat surfaces and prevents bacteria from entering the teat end.

2. Seek assistance from a qualified dairy professional (veterinarian mastitis consultant , milking machine technician ).

3. Do individual cow SCC tests monthly to help identify herd trends and pinpoint the infected cows.

4. Run a monthly bulk tank culture through a reliable laboratory to find out what kinds of bacteria are causing mammary infections.

5. If bulk tank culture results show a high level of contagious mastitis pathogens (Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus agalactiae, or Mycoplasma), identify infected cows by individual cow culturing. Reduce cow-to-cow spread and remove the high SCC quarters from the milk supply.

6. If bulk tank culture results show high levels of environmental pathogens (non-ag streps, coliforms, or staph species), improve bedding management and pre-milking cow prep. Replace all organic bedding in every stall weekly with clean bedding. Every day, replace the bedding in the back half of the stall with fresh, clean bedding. If you use sand bedding, add fresh, clean sand at least once per week. Keep stalls levelled and remove soiled sand daily.

7. Improve consistency in milking procedures. Include a pre- and post-milking teat dip, 10 to 20 seconds of cleaning, at least 30 seconds of contact time for the teat dip, and a thorough teat end wiping before attaching the milking unit. Plan routine to achieve 60-120 second prep-lag time.

8. Include fore stripping during cow prep to identify high SCC quarters and keep milk from those quarters out of the bulk tank.

9. Cull chronically high SCC cows that do not respond to therapy.

10. Treat all quarters of all cows at dry off with an approved dry cow intramammary tube.

11. Consider using a dry cow teat sealer.

12. Provide dry cows with adequate space, ventilation and clean bedding (records indicate that an average of 35% of cows and heifers calve with high SCCs).

13. Keep cows as cool and comfortable as possible during hot weather.

14. Control flies.

15. Maintain milking equipment in good working order. Develop a routine performance check and maintenance program. Replace rubber parts at recommended intervals. Be sure system cleaning is done consistently and properly. h

The Cows Teat!

The Cows Teat!

The cow’s teat has evolved to allow for efficient suckling by the calf but also to provide some defence against damage and infection from mastitis-causing pathogens.

The teat has a large mass of connecting blood vessels at its base called the erectile venous plexus, which, when the milk let-down stimulus occurs, make the teat become more rigid, allowing the milk to be removed by the calf through sucking, or by the milking equipment, without the teat collapsing on itself.

The teat has nerves in the tissues, this allows the brain to react and initiate milk let-down.

Sore and damaged teats can be predominantly painful. Teats vary in shape and size; the more cylindrically-shaped teats are alleged to be less-susceptible to mastitis.

The epidermis is a thick hairless outer skin, containing a thicker layer of keratin (a substance found in hair and hooves) than is found in normal skin. This gives it a much more rugged structure to cope with the demands of being suckled. It has however no sweat or sebaceous glands to lubricate it like normal skin, and so is more prone to drying and cracking. The epidermis also has a large number of nerve endings.

The dermis is the second layer of the teat wall and carries the nerves and blood vessels.

There is a layer of muscle, giving the teat strength and structure, and a circular sphincter muscle around the teat canal.

The teat cistern is lined with epithelial cells, which are square-shaped and are able to move apart, allowing white blood cells to enter the structure as an immune system response to bacterial infection.

The teat canal is approximately 9mm in length and has a lining comprised of folded epidermal tissue (similar to skin, but containing more keratin), covered by a thin lipidised film. This film is hydroscopic (it repels liquids).

There is also a structure known as the rosette of Furstenberg, which has an important role in detecting bacterial infection and initiating an immune response. :

A brief History of the Cow – Bovinae species

The original range of wild cows was northern Africa, Europe and southern Asia. Cows were domesticated between 10,000 and 6,500 years ago by cultures great distances from each other. Typical western cattle are from the older strain, which was most likely first domesticated in Turkey.

The most genetically diverse population of cattle is found in the Taurus Mountains of Turkey, which strongly indicates that cattle were first domesticated there. There is evidence of domesticated cattle remains in China at around the same time, about 10,000 years ago, but it is unclear if these cattle were traded from Turkey or native to China. What is known is that domesticated cattle from Turkey spread to Europe and Africa,

The Pleistocene Epoch is typically defined as the time period that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago. The most recent Ice Age occurred then, as glaciers covered huge parts of the planet Earth. Evidence has shown that wild cows roamed this period, classed as a slow moving prey species.

Cattle are prey species. Their eyes are located on the sides of their heads, allowing them to capture movement around them. But they take longer to focus on specific objects. Their excellent peripheral vision creates a panorama effect on their sides. Their hearing tends to be sensitive to high-pitched noises, dairy breeds more so than beef breeds.

The cow has always been part of the bio sphere and Archaeologists and biologists are agreed that there is strong evidence for two distinct domestication events from aurochs in the near east about 10,500 years ago,

Most mammals, including humans, can tolerate milk as infants, but after weaning, they lose that ability. Only about 35% of people in the world are able to digest milk sugars as adults without discomfort, a trait called lactase persistence so the herd cow was used for meat and clothing.

The 18th century saw the birth of the first breed Systematic, selective breeding and genetic isolation finally led to the development of hundreds of different breeds, which over time became also integral parts of local tradition highland, welsh black, Aberdeen Angus.

Herbivores, cattle feed primarily on grasses and stems. To pull up grass or a plant, a bovine twists its tongue around the plant and cuts it off with its bottom teeth. In place of upper incisors, a bovine has “dental pads” ideal for grinding coarse grasses and other plant materials. The bovine is a ruminant, possessing a four-chambered stomach. The four chambers are the rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum. Food first goes through the rumen and reticulums, where bacteria help break it down into cud, substance cattle regurgitate and chew again. Then the food goes through the omasum and into the abomasum. This digestive process can take 70 to 100 hours

Humans have survived ice ages and deadly pandemics to become the dominant species on Earth, even if our reign over the planet barely represents a blip in a geological record that has seen countless living organisms come and go. We have adapted to live almost anywhere, Cows, for instance, are easily domesticated.

For many centuries, smallpox devastated mankind
An estimated 300 million people died from smallpox in the 20th century alone ,
inserted pus extracted from a cowpox pustule on the hand of a milkmaid, into an incision on the arm of an eight-year-old boy, James Phipps and the vaccine was born.

Would the Human race had survived without the Cow ?

recent research on over milking

The practice of milking and stripping all cows completely during each milking could be leading to teat damage in your herd.

Over milking can damage teat ends and compromise udder health ‘putting cows at greater risk for infection. But a simple test can help you determine if you are over- or under milking.

The recommendation to milk all cows completely ‚every time ‘has been reviewed 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.

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.

Over milking starts when the milk flow to the teat cistern is less than the flow out of the teat canal. Fluctuations within the mouthpiece chamber vacuum can occur. If the vacuum in the cistern is higher than beneath the teat, reverse pressure across the teat canal may increase bacterial infection.

Reverse pressure gradients occur only during milking of empty teats, and over milking will therefore increase the possibility of bacteria entering the teat.

Teat-end health is also greatly affected by over milking. Hyperkeratosis of the teat, which is a thickening of the skin that lines the teat canal and external orifice, is often experienced in herds with long unit-on times.

Hyperkeratosis doesn’t allow for teats to be thoroughly cleaned and can lead to bacteria being left behind‚which also can lead to an increased somatic cell count.

many factors could be at fault. Milking machines must be properly maintained, and if automatic detachers are being used, adjust for timely removal of the milking unit. If your farm manually detaches units, employees must be more consistent in removing the unit as soon as “end of milking” is reached for each animal.

Timely unit attachment and proper let down, quiet cow handling and timely unit adjustment, and proper alignment are also critical.

A few simple steps can prevent over milking and can help decrease your overall herd somatic cell count. By following these guidelines, your herd can reach optimum udder health.

Cow Flow into Parlour .

Poor cow flow can affect costs and increase standing time – and therefore reduce feeding, drinking and lying times. These issues have poor consequences for foot health, and for milk production.

Cows milked in poorly maintained milking equipment will be reluctant to come into the parlour.

Check vacuum levels, automatic cup remover (ACR) settings and milking liners and also think about the standing point of the cow in the parlour.

Milking bigger cows in a parlour that was designed 16 years ago for smaller animals can make standing uncomfortable.

This can lead to less-effective milk let-down and incomplete milk-out.

Providing a small rise in the floor towards the parlour can also encourage cows to face and move forwards.

Installing rubber mats in a strip at the entrance to the parlour can draw cows towards the parlour.

Fitting rubber matting in the milking stalls, on exit and at any sharp turns can aid comfort and thus flow.

Cow flow typically becomes a problem on farms that have expanded and either extended or put in bigger parlours.

This is a particular problem when the size of the collecting yard has not changed and cow numbers have increased.

This means cows can be too tight in the collecting yard stopping the dominant or milking entry cows unable to move easily through the herd and into the parlour.

If used too much, a backing gate can push cows too close together and reduce space per cow, reducing cow movement.

The key is to set the gate’s sensitivity and resistance, so that when it comes into contact with a cow it stops.

Linking the rear gate of the parlour to the backing gate also helps to stop the space per cow from being compromised.

Never bunch cows with a gate this has a negative affect an can cause stress .

Cows do not like moving from light to dark so it’s important to minimise shadows.

They see shadows as holes.

Cows should move in a straight line in and out of the parlour as sharp bends can affect movement.

Avoid strangers from entering the parlour during milking .

Is you Milking Machine Flooding ?

The milking machine is the most important piece of equipment on the dairy farm. It is used more often and more hours per year than any other piece of equipment, including the farm tractor.

When milk completely fills any tube or line between the teat end and the vacuum pump, the system is said to be flooded. Placing a solid column of milk in the air column slows its movement. If air is being admitted to the system behind the column of milk, the vacuum level will lower. Some researchers feel that flooding alone is detrimental and vacuum fluctuation is secondary in causing new udder infections. Their opinion is based on the possibility of milk from an infected quarter mixing in the flooded claw and then contaminating the teat end of an uninfected quarter. This is a possibility. One study showed that impact forces on a teat end do occur when the liner opens.

The Following is a list of factors involved in flooding.

Fast milking cows.

Liner tail piece of inadequate capacity.

Small Claws and wide ratios.

Elevating milk with milking vacuum.

Milk line too small for number of milkers.

Inadequate milk line slope.


In line milk filters.

Elbows in milk line.

Improperly placed milk inlets.

A 300 ml capacity claw piece enables a cluster to handle the fastest milking cows with no danger of flooding whether on 4 x 1 or 2 x 2 pulsation, the 19mm milk nipple allows maximum flow of milk and vacuum through the milk tube.

Most short milk tubes are now 8mm plus

Most direct to lines are 75mm, there is a maximum number of units on a straight and looped line.

Milk lines should have a continuous and even fall towards the receiver jar, with a minimum of 10 mm (1 cm) of drop for every metre of pipe.  This translates into a minimum decline of 0.5%.

The more milkers in the parlour the more chance of slugging increase the fall.

The Above Graph shows a brand new parlour with slugging in the milk line due to a sharp bend , this value only just complies .

The flow of milk inside the milk line should be at a level of less than 50%, i.e. there should be more air above the level of milk than milk below.  This is called “stratified flow

The milking cluster requires air vents so that the milk lines do not become flooded.  The air vents are located either in or near the claw or in the liner. 

Checking your pulsation ratio to ensure quick gentle milking

Lifting milk can increase the length of the milk vacuum slug and reduce the vacuum level.

There should be no risers on the milk line

Having sharp bends will affect the movement of airflow milk flow and can cause flooding.

The Milking Machine does not give the cows mastitis it can spread pathogens or damage the teat skin .

I am still testing poorly installed milking equipment, why no fit it correctly? “