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.
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.