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Cutting Corners in Cow Preparation for Milking Doesn't Pay

Dairy Pipeline: October 1998

Gerald M. (Jerry) Jones
Extension Dairy Scientist, Milk Quality and Milking Management
Virginia Tech

How many times have you heard me talk or write about this concern? Some academic philosophers indicate that you have to hear something 7 times before you really hear it. So please bear with me while I say it again. On too many farms that I've visited during the past year, cow prep for milking is inadequate! This is one of the points made by Dr. Andy Johnson, a Wisconsin veterinarian, at the regional meeting of the National Mastitis Council in Bellevue, Washington, in his presentation "Improving milking and parlor performance". "The bottom line is to have a good milking routine rather than a quick routine." In herds that his practice has worked with, "machine on times have been reduced from 1.5 to 3.5 minutes per cow per milking. Not only is the machine on the cows for less time but the teat end condition has improved, milk quality has improved, and parlor performance has improved." In herds that he works with, two trips are made to the cow. On the first trip, teats are stripped and predipped. On the second trip, teats are dried and units are applied. The key factor is having the proper lag time of 60 seconds so the cow has a good let down and fast milk flow during milking. If you spend an extra 15 seconds in your milking procedures and reduce milking time 45 seconds, it is a positive result. But it all starts with clean and dry cows coming into the parlor (which should not have been a problem since June). Since returning to Dairy Science, I have found too many herds having problems with long machine-on times and poor "milk-out." They attach teatcups to teats that have not been sufficiently stimulated to let down their milk. In some cases, no foremilk stripping has occurred. It is my opinion that the strongest signal that can be sent to initiate milk letdown is forestripping and research from Cornell University suggests that 4-5 powerful squirts should be stripped from each teat. On too many farms, no stimulation occurs until pre-dip is dried from teats and then the teatcup is immediately attached to a "dry" teat. I usually recommend that the routine should consist of forestripping 3-5 squirts from each teat (preferably into a strip cup), pre-dip (I don't have space today to express my concerns about applying teat dip with a spray), and then move to the next cow because pre-dip needs to stay on the teat for at least 30 seconds. I advocate stripping and dipping no more that 3-4 cows before returning to the first cow and drying her off and attaching the milker (2nd trip). The milking unit should be attached within 60-90 seconds of stimulation.

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