Mastitis is Mastitis

So I turned up on a farm with a very high cell count “the farmer said I am being penalised by the dairy for having a high cell count, but I don’t have any mastitis “

Categorizing mastitis
Once it is identified, it is important to identify the severity of mastitis as this is crucial in determining what treatment to give.

Subclinical mastitis: while appearing unaffected by the illness, may experience a reduction in yield potential due to the high SCC, and certainly represents a possible source of infection for other cows, who can become subclinical sufferers themselves, or may go on to show clinical signs of the illness, due to differences in immune status between cows.

Any milk that has a somatic cell count of more than 1,000 000 cells per millilitre is not fit for human consumption.

Mild mastitis: Abnormality of the milk is the main sign with little evidence of change in the udder and no systemic signs such as dullness and loss of appetite.

Moderate mastitis: Changes in the udder are detectable as well as changes in the milk. These changes can occur slowly or rapidly. There may be small systemic changes such as reduction in feed intake.
Over a long period of time both of these types of mastitis can persist, leading to chronic inflammation and damage in the udder (chronic mastitis).

Severe mastitis: Marked changes in the udder and milk are combined with major systemic effects in the cow such as fever, loss of appetite, depression, shock, dehydration, and collapse. These cows need urgent veterinary attention.

Whether we like it or not all the above are mastitis which occur in every UK dairy herd to varying degrees. And while it is easy and often routine to supply cows showing clinical disease with antibiotics, is the pain of the disease ever taken in to consideration?
“Its only Sub clinical mastitis doesn’t mean there is no pain”.

Antibiotics are undoubtedly important in the fight against mastitis infection, but if you were to ask any human female having experienced mastitis they would likely describe the pain as excruciating,

Sub Clinical mastitis can present itself in a wide degree of severity of symptoms which can range from low to high cells. The degree of illness and the symptoms present will depend on many factors, such as the nutritional or immune status of the cow, which pathogen is responsible for the inflammation, and a range of environmental factors such as cleanliness, humidity and ambient temperature. Moderate to severe clinical cases can be very painful and unpleasant for the cow

So what are you aiming for?
The generally-quoted aims for mastitis control and milk quality on UK dairy farms are:
A mastitis frequency rate of no more than 30 cases per 100 cows per year.
A mastitis persistence rate of no more than 20% of the herd affected per year.
A mastitis re-occurrence rate of less than 10% of the total number of cases.
A herd-average Somatic Cell Count below 150,000 cells/ml.

Maintaining a low bulk tank somatic cell count has always been a good dairy management strategy. Low somatic cell counts are associated with improved milk quality, increased shelf life and cheese yield after the milk leaves the farm, increased milk production, and reduced veterinary and drug costs.

Bulk tank somatic cell count (BTSCC) is the most commonly used measure of udder health on most dairy farms.
There are many reasons that BTSCC is used. High BTSCC is a good indicator of udder health problems on the farm. BTSCC is also readily available.

So, how do you know if you have an udder health problem despite a low BTSCC? The only way to know is to keep good records. Records can be kept on paper.

With regards to somatic cell counts in dairy cattle, the lower they are, the healthier your cows are, which in turn, means that the environment they are in, is good.
The inflammation of the udder causes large numbers of white blood cells (leucocytes) and epithelial cells to be released into the milk. It is these cells that are collectively known as somatic or body cells.

However, there is also other form of mastitis, called Subclinical Mastitis, where there is inflammation to the udder, but it isn’t noticeable. Everything looks normal, but when the milk is tested you have a high somatic cell count. This type of mastitis is common in 60-80% of all cases, and far more common than Clinical Mastitis.

Mastitis is basically an environmental disease, because the germs that cause it are everywhere. There is no magical way of controlling it, but as I said, you can reduce it by making sure that bedding is regularly replaced, and water sources are clean. Keep your fly population down. Any dairy equipment used should be clean, and udders totally dry when milking begins.

Having said that, mastitis can also be caused by incomplete milking, or improper drying off when it is done too quickly.

Most mastitis is caused by germs entering the udder through the teat canal. Therefore the teats should be checked regularly for cracks, cupped teats, enlarged milk ducts, warts, cuts, scratches etc. that would allow the germ to enter.

Of course the milking machines themselves don’t do the cows any favours either for mastitis and somatic cell counts. Often the vacuum rates and fluctuations cause the teats to be irritated, which in turn encourage infection. Using the milking machine on a cow with mastitis, followed by a healthy cow during the same milking session, without any cleaning in between, will result in spreading the infection.

Mastitis occurs when the dairy cow has few defences against infection due to either injury, or the sanitary or even mechanical aspects of the milking machines used, how the udders are handled during milking, the type of housing provided and any stress that the animal may be under, can all contribute to mastitis, which, in turn will result in a high somatic cell count.

STOP! Looking at controlling the symptoms, you should be looking at the causes. Good management of your dairy cattle will always work in your favour of keeping the somatic cell count down.

Can you justify a new milking parlour ?

As cow numbers increase and parlours age milking systems might need upgrading or full replacement. That change is one of the most significant capital investments made on a dairy farm.

When considering building a new parlour, one of the biggest questions to ask is can you do what you want with what you have, Technology has changed considerably over the years and producers may be missing out on developments that could help capitalize on their bottom line.”
There are three areas that indicate the need for a parlour change, they are
Stall work: Some parlours are well beyond their intended use, metal work and stalls are worn and broken, this could lead to a monumental system failure or worse: injury to cows or workers.
Parlour is too small: When herd size increases this leads to cows spending more time in the milking process that means more time away from feed, water and relaxation.
Increase efficacies: That could be in terms of labour, time or automation. There’s a big difference between wanting and needing a new parlour.

Convincing yourself of a solid return on your investment is a first step, “Will the new investment improve returns? Will the leap in technology improve cow care, performance and efficiency? Generally it comes down to return.
Working capital, repayment capacity and overall equity position are key components of knowing whether a dairy business is secure enough financially to take on a parlour renovation. With regard to parlour type,

When it comes to incorporating technology in the parlour, how information will be used is what really matters. “Technology can improve return on investment, despite the added cost, can you demonstrate how data will be used, if you just let the information pile up and never look at it, producers should just go with simple parlours.

Full-fat Dairy Products Won’t Hurt You–But You Knew That

Enjoying full-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and butter is unlikely to send people to an early grave, according to new research by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).
The study, published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found no significant link between dairy fats and cause of death or, more specifically, heart disease and stroke — two of the country’s biggest killers often associated with a diet high in saturated fat. In fact, certain types of dairy fat may help guard against having a severe stroke, the researchers reported.
“Our findings not only support, but also significantly strengthen, the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults. In addition to not contributing to death, the results suggest that one fatty acid present in dairy may lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly from stroke,” said Marcia Otto, Ph.D., the study’s first and corresponding author and assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health.
Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, was senior author of the study, funded by the National Institutes of Health.
The study evaluated how multiple biomarkers of fatty acid present in dairy fat related to heart disease and all-cause mortality over a 22-year period. This measurement methodology, as opposed to the more commonly used self-reported consumption, gave greater and more objective insight into the impact of long-term exposure to these fatty acids, according to the report.
Nearly 3,000 adults age 65 years and older were included in the study, which measured plasma levels of three different fatty acids found in dairy products at the beginning in 1992 and again at six and 13 years later.
None of the fatty acid types were significantly associated with total mortality. In fact one type was linked to lower cardiovascular disease deaths. People with higher fatty acid levels, suggesting higher consumption of whole-fat dairy products, had a 42 percent lower risk of dying from stroke.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans currently recommend serving fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, cheese, yogurt, and/or fortified soy beverages. But Otto pointed out that low-fat dairy foods such as low-fat yogurt and chocolate milk often include high amounts of added sugars, which may lead to poor cardiovascular and metabolic health.
“Consistent with previous findings, our results highlight the need to revisit current dietary guidance on whole fat dairy foods, which are rich sources of nutrients such as calcium and potassium. These are essential for health not only during childhood but throughout life, particularly also in later years when undernourishment and conditions like osteoporosis are more common,” Otto said.
Evidence-based research is key to educating people about nutrition, Otto said.
“Consumers have been exposed to so much different and conflicting information about diet, particularly in relation to fats,” she said. “It’s therefore important to have robust studies, so people can make more balanced and informed choices based on scientific fact rather than hearsay,” she added.
The research was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (grant R01HL085710 and R01HL085710-07S1).

Avoid Overmilking: Preserve Teat Health

The recommendation to dairy producers has been to “milk ALL cows as completely at every milking.” This recommendation 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.
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 producers of milk.
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.
Hyperkeratosis means excessive keratin growth. It is a thickening of the skin that lines the teat canal and the external orifice. Producers often notice a wart-like structure or rough spots at the end of the teat. This can be a result of poor milking management and long unit on times. Cows that experience these effects are often seen to have an increase in somatic cell count. This is due to the inability to thoroughly clean teat ends with hyperkeratosis, leaving bacteria behind to enter the teat canal during milking.
So, overmilking and prolonged unit attachment can greatly affect your herd’s udder health. How do you test if you are overmilking? There is a very simple way to do so that can be done by anyone on the farm. The strip yield test looks at overall completeness of milking. It can be done two different ways, by hand or with a unit. I prefer to do this evaluation by hand, but your preference may differ.
To accomplish the test, immediately after milking, hand strip each quarter for 15 seconds, collecting the milk in a container. I use a plastic measuring cup. A properly milked cow should have about one cup of milk left in the udder, if there is more or less, then a milk out problem may exist on your farm.
Performing this test with a milking unit requires a little more precision. A milking meter is required to perform the test using this method. To do so, the milking unit must be reattached within 30 seconds of automatic removal and downward pressure applied. Continue applying pressure for 15 seconds before removing the unit. Record the amount of milk that was harvested using this method. Once again, about one cup of milk should be left in the udder.
If you discover that a problem exists on your farm with over or under milking, there are a number of different factors that can attribute to this. It is important to properly maintain your milking machines to reach optimum performance. If automatic detachers are being used, adjustment for timely removal of the milking unit can be critical to help reduce unit on time. If your farm is manually detaching the unit, employees need to be aware of the issue that is occurring and be more consistent in removing the unit as soon as “end of milking” is reached for each animal. It is important to look at your overall milking routine and have timely unit attachment and proper let down, quiet cow handling and timely unit adjustment, and proper alignment.
In conclusion, a few simple steps on your farm to prevent overmilking can help decrease your overall herd somatic cell count. Routinely perform a strip yield test on your farm to be sure units are being .

Many thanks to – Rassmussen, M. D., E. S. Frimer, and E. L. Decker. 1994. Reverse pressure gradients across the teat canal related to machine milking. J. Dairy Sci. 77:984-993

Lighting your New Milking Parlour

So you have just bought a 200 thousand pound milking parlour, you are excited and looking forward to milking your cows in this state of the art machine,
You put the first unit on and think it’s a bit dark and gloomy it’s depressing.

People spend approximately a third of their day at work, so it’s not hard to imagine the importance of lighting in the workplace. The use of LED lighting is on the rise in homes and in the workplace.

The quality of lighting in a workplace can have a significant effect on productivity. With adequate lighting workers can work with fewer mistakes, which can lead to a 10-50 % increase in productivity. Good lighting can decrease errors by 30-60 % as well as decrease eye-strain and the headaches, nausea, and neck pain which often accompany eyestrain. Adequate lighting allows workers to concentrate better on their work which increases productivity.

The level of lighting that workers need varies depending on the nature of the task, the sharpness of the workers’ eyesight, and the environment in which the work is done. For example, detailed work, such as inspection, assembling of small parts or technical drawing, needs a great deal of light. Coarse work, on the other hand, such as loading or unloading materials, handling of materials or packaging, requires less light

Good lighting in the workplace promotes:
1. A reduced risk of occupational accidents and health problems;
2. Better concentration and accuracy in work;
3. A brighter, cleaner workplace resulting in a more active, cheerful environment;
4. improved work performance;
5. Better visibility, improved accuracy and increased work speed enhancing production.

In can be easy to improve lighting without increasing the number of light bulbs, light fixtures or the electric bill. Improved lighting can be achieved by using more daylight, by adding more roof lights in a new building.

Complement the wall covering in a CREAM colour to reflect light.

So what lighting is the best which over time can save you money and enhance productivity?

The high quality of LED lighting helps people be more aware of their surroundings at work, including little hazards that could cause someone to trip or fall. In addition to everyday risks, there can be sudden emergencies. Emergency exit signs are typically LEDs because of its clearness, brightness, and long lifespan. Those same attributes can translate to any workplace retrofitted with LED lighting. They are well-lit to ensure everyone’s safety.

LED lights require relatively low amounts of energy to power them. This can reduce lighting consumption by 55-90 percent. An LED light can typically last for up to 60,000 hours, which is considerably longer than incandescent and fluorescent lighting alternatives. This is not only better for your budget, but better for the environment too, by reducing carbon emissions. In addition, the disposal of phosphor and the particularly toxic mercury in the tubes is an environmental issue. They are not recyclable and eventually end up in landfills. LED lights do not contain any harmful chemicals and as a result are fully recyclable at the end of their life. The switch to energy-efficient LED lighting greatly reduces a company’s carbon footprint, showcasing the business as an example of environmental responsibility

LED lighting is proven to be more energy efficient and longer lasting than traditional fluorescent, high pressure sodium, or metal halide lighting. As a result, most manufacturing facilities are evaluating LED lighting upgrades to reduce energy and maintenance costs. These savings can be quantified by projecting wattage reductions and the cost of bulbs and labour to replace old fixtures as they burn out.
However, there are savings that are more difficult to quantify, but are extremely significant and can far outweigh the energy and maintenance savings associated with an LED upgrade. Consider how much profit could be realized if just a 1 percent increase in productivity could be gained with a brighter environment.

Today’s LED lighting color temperature is typically about 5000 Kelvins. This temperature is very similar to natural light.

Take the time to consider the above contact your electrician , A good installer will encourage you and work out a consumption and saving over many years helping you understand the benefits and reduction in cost , your milking machine is an investment of twenty years , don’t penny pinch on lights !

Beware ! some LED lighting due to frequency can affect Auto ID , Contact your installer !

Invest in your Cows

Milk quality is affected by many causes, many of which we can control through appropriate management. One major area that involves many causes which can influence milk quality is cow comfort,

If you have a chance to build a new green field or renovate an existing site, you should focus on cow comfort from the start. Cows lie down for 12 to 14 hours a day, making the bedding surface on which they lie quite important. Sand is ideal because it encourages increased lying time, allows cows to switch between standing and lying easily, helps keep cows cool and doesn’t promote bacterial growth.
Bacteria are an udder’s worst enemy, and unlike sawdust or straw, sand doesn’t have organic matter that will help bacteria thrive in it. This does not mean that you can leave manure in stalls and expect the sand to take care of it. However, if you clean stalls habitually and make sure dry sand remains at curb height, there should be fewer opportunities for bacteria to enter the teat end when cows lie on top of it.
Clean and dry surface is the most important thing to endeavour for regardless of housing or bedding type.

Cows that go out to graze are often thought as producing poorer milk quality, but there is little to no scientific basis for this theory. Lush grass and ample shade allows cows to rest in a more comfortable environment outside. Many producers want cows to calve on pasture because they think of it as being a clean and comfortable area that may help during that stressful time. So why should that not be the case throughout lactation? Heat stress is a major consideration for pastured animals. Trees can provide effective shade, but cows will often compact the area around the trees, creating a mud hole, which can increase mastitis risk. Rotating fences between shady spots or providing portable shade areas can decrease this problem.

Saving on the small stuff can create big messes. The best herdsman in the world will still have things they don’t do perfectly because there are not enough hours in the day or enough money in the bank, but motivated to pay attention to as many details as possible will benefit you and your cows. There are no tricks or hidden secrets – “attention to detail” is the key to success. Mastitis management requires attention to detail in the parlour and in the housing system.
Building or renovating a housing system is usually a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so doing it right is important. When designing a new facility or improving an existing facility, remember that cow comfort plays a large role in milk quality. Build your facility for the cows, not for the workers, and you may just start to see better milk quality results.
Invest in your Cows and you will see a profit in your workers.

Understanding laboratory Jargon

TVC: Total Viable Count

A TVC is not a specific micro-organism but rather a test which estimates total numbers of viable (viable means living) individual micro-organisms present in a set volume of sample. The TVC count may include bacteria, yeasts and mould species.
Clearly it is impossible to have a set of conditions that are ideal for all organisms likely to be present in any one sample. This should be borne in mind when interpreting the results. TVC results are however very useful for trend analysis whereby changes in the numbers of microbes present in a system can be monitored over time and multiple samples. Mastitis
Mastitis is an inflammation of the udder, typically caused by a microbiological infection.

Total Bacteria Count (TBC)

Low levels (<50,000/ml) are essential to ensure the manufacture of high quality milk as directly increases the shelf life of milk and allow the Society to manufacture the highest quality final products for our customers. High levels of TBC are an indicator of on-farm general hygiene conditions, milking equipment cleanliness and milk storage (temperature and time).

Somatic Cells
Somatic cells are cells from the cow (predominantly white blood cells, otherwise known as leukocytes) that are normally present in milk. During most mastitis infections, the number of somatic cells present in the udder increases to help the cow fight the infection. There are several types of somatic cells that have different functions in fighting infection. Somatic cells can contain lipolytic and proteolytic enzymes, which degrade fats and proteins, respectively. An increase in somatic cells count during a mastitis infection increases the amount of destructive enzymes present in the milk, which increases the rate of deterioration of the milk fat and protein.

Bacteria Count
The total bacteria count is the number of bacteria in a sample that can grow and form countable colonies on Standard Methods Agar after being held at 32°C (90°F) for 48 hours.
Coliform Count
The coliform count is the number of colonies in a sample that grow and form distinctive countable colonies on Violet Red Bile Agar after being held at 32°C (90°F) for 24 hours. Coliforms are generally only present in food that has been fecally or environmentally contaminated.

Thermodurics
have developed mechanisms to resist heat and other lethal agents such as sanitizers. Most of these bacteria have an ability to create a protective form called a spore that is very tough to kill.
The spores end up in finished products and begin growing and damaging the milk product. The most effective way to minimize the LPC count is to prevent contamination of the milk with thermoduric bacteria. This means clean cows and clean equipment. Thermoduric bacteria are common in soil and fermented feedstuffs. When cattle are exposed to contaminated material, thermoduric bacteria get on their teats. Poor udder sanitization will allow problems to develop. Milkstone buildups in the system may protect some of these bacteria and allow them to multiply in the raw milk. The LPC test is a good estimate of both cow and system cleanliness.

Common Mistakes in the Milking Parlour

Maintaining a low bulk tank somatic cell count has always been a good dairy management approach. Low somatic cell counts are associated with improved milk quality, increased shelf life and cheese yield after the milk leaves the farm, increased milk production, and reduced veterinary and drug costs.
Market changes have led to an increased importance by milk buyers toward lowering bulk tank somatic cell counts at the farm level. As a result, many dairy producers have refocused efforts to lower somatic cell count. Often, the reasons for a high bulk tank somatic cell count can be found in the milking parlour. Following are five common parlour mistakes that should be avoided to keep somatic cell counts low.

1. Milking dirty or wet teats
Poorly cleaned or dried teats result in increased incidence of mastitis and higher somatic cell counts. The first step to milking clean, dry teats is to keep cows as clean as possible before they ever enter the milking area. Clean cows are exposed to fewer environmental mastitis-causing bacteria and they are easier to clean before milking. If you feel the need to wash a high percentage of your cows, you may want to reconsider how your pastures or cowsheds are managed to improve cow cleanliness.
Dirt, manure, or debris can often be removed by hand or with a towel without the use of water. When cows are excessively dirty, some use of water may be necessary to clean the teats. However, this practice should be the exception and not the rule. Water use in the milking process should be kept to a minimum.
If water is used, be sure to only wet the teats and not the entire udder. It is nearly impossible to dry the udder and this water ends up being drawn into the inflations during the milking process. Generally, the use of water in the parlour results in increased mastitis and higher bacteria levels in milk.
WATER DOES NOT KILL BACTERIA!
All teats should be thoroughly dried with a single-service, absorbent cloth or paper towel. Never use the same towel on two cows. All debris, manure and predip residue on the teats should be removed while drying, using a gentle, twisting motion. During the drying process, pay particular attention to getting the teat ends clean and dry. If teats are not adequately dried, water, containing mastitis-causing bacteria, may end up in the teat cups during the milking process and expose the open teat ends to these bacteria.

2. Poor pre- or post-dip coverage
Pre-dipping and post-dipping are two mastitis management policies. Unfortunately, carelessness in the milking parlour often leads to insufficient teat dip coverage. Predipping with a sanitizing solution eliminates bacteria on teat ends prior to milking and helps to control mastitis caused by environmental mastitis pathogens. The predip should remain on the teats for at least 30 seconds before drying.
As soon as possible after the milking units are removed, teats should be dipped with a post-dip, which has been demonstrated to be an effective germicide through independent research. An effective post-dip kills bacteria on teats, prevents organisms from colonizing in the teat canal and reduces the rate of new infections from contagious mastitis bacteria. When pre-dipping and post-dipping, at least ¾ of the teat should be covered, with a goal of covering the entire teat. Teat dip cups should be kept clean.
Some dairy producers choose to spray teats rather than dip. While it is possible to adequately cover teats with a spray bottle, full coverage is often inadequate when spraying teats. A good way to test the effectiveness of dipping is to wrap a paper towel around the teat just after dipping.
The goal is to see a continuous streak of teat dip on the paper towel, indicating the entire teat was covered. With spraying, you will often find broken streaks of teat dip because the opposite side of the teat is often not covered.

3. Too little or too much time between teat stimulation with the cow and milker attachment
Attaching milkers too soon or too late can result in excessive milking time or reduced milk yield. The timing of milking unit attachment is a critical step in a good milking procedure. Oxytocin, which causes milk let down, reaches peak levels at 60 seconds after stimulation.
Therefore, milkers should be attached within 1 to 1.5 minutes after teat stimulation. Synchronizing attachment with milk let down helps ensure that the milkers are attached during the time frame when milk flow is highest.

4. Spreading mastitis with contaminated hands
Contagious mastitis-causing bacteria,like Staph. Aureus, may live on your hands and be transmitted between cows during milking. At minimum, hands should be thoroughly washed with soap and water before milking. Ideally, because bacteria are less likely to adhere to gloves than rough, calloused skin, nitrile or latex gloves should be worn during milking.
Gloves minimize the spread of contagious mastitis between cows during milking and help protect the milker’s skin. Gloves are also easier to disinfect than bare hands. Whether gloves are worn or not, hands should be washed sporadically throughout the milking procedure.

5. Over milking
Care should be taken to avoid over milking, which can increase the incidence of liner slips and lead to teat end damage. Damaged teat ends are more susceptible to mastitis. When automatic take-offs are used, the unit settings should be adjusted to ensure they do not stay on too long. Additionally, it is important to resist the temptation to override the automatic detachment by putting the milker back on.
The process of machine stripping, or holding down on individual teat cups or milking clusters, should be avoided. Properly stimulated cows milked with correctly functioning and attached milking units should not have excessive residual milk left in the udder. The potential losses from machine stripping far outweigh any potential benefits.

Milking Efficacy

To reduce mastitis and maintain milk quality, dairy farmers need to keep milking equipment in good working condition. However, milking efficacy should be measured 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 peak. When milk isn’t flowing while the unit is attached, it is not only unproductive, but more importantly, could damage the teat tissue, which could increase the risk of mastitis and decrease milk yield.

Regular Maintenance
A majority of dairy farms have their milking equipment tested to ISO 6690 Requirements and serviced as per manufacturer’s recommendations on an annual or six monthly cycles. Proper equipment function is necessary for milking efficacy. Not alerting and training staff in areas that could lead to poor milking efficacy to routines that don’t achieve consistent milk let down and could cause over milking. Either one of these problems can leave cows “In pain” for a period of time and expose teats to high vacuum levels.

During pre- stimulation before unit placement, nerves carry an electric signal to the cow’s brain. She 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. Regrettably, with increasing herd size, the number of cows that can be milked through the parlour per hour is often recognised as more important. So common talk among dairy farmers is speed of throughput

Measure Milk Flow
How would you know if this is happening in your herd? A milking time test (dynamic test) will show up milk flow from the cluster and vacuum levels during unit on time.

Biphasic milking “under milking “

“Milking is so routine, we don’t even think about it. It just happens,”
The end goal for udder preparation before milking is to maintain a constant routine at each milking:

1. A minimum of 10 seconds of physical stimulation on teats.
2. A lag time of 60 to 90 seconds before units are attached.
3. A parlour routine that consistently accomplishes 1 and 2 from the beginning to the end of milking
4. When there is a high vacuum but little milk flow. This can happen any time before complete milk let-down, the cow lets milk down which appears to be complete milking, then stops for 15 – 30 seconds.

So why stimulate the teats? How important is lag time before unit attachment?
In a recent study of farms, a large percentage experienced biphasic milking “under milking “in more than 30 percent of the cows. Biphasic milking results when oxytocin has not reached the mammary cells at the time the unit is attached. In other words, it is a delayed start of peak milk flow. The goal in the modern milking parlour routine is to have less than 10 percent of cows experience biphasic milking” under milking “.

With biphasic milking, milk flow starts as it originates from the teat and gland cisterns, but then stops or slows considerably because milk let-down has not been activated. Milk flow may be stopped for 30 seconds or more until sufficient stimulation, or sufficient time allows the arrival of oxytocin that causes the milk flow to begin again.

The impacts from biphasic milking “ under milking “ can be uncomfortable to cows, and could result in congestion in the teat, high vacuum without milk flow can cause stress on the teat . Under milking can cause teat end roughness, and it has the potential to reduce milk yield.

Milk let down is now considered as important as over milking exposing the teat to full vacuum has extreme effect on the cows teat end .
As herd numbers increase in the UK it is more important to train staff and new employees to a constant routine without cutting corners.