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 .

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