Following a routine when milking is key to both efficiency and hygiene
Lists some of the areas where corners are cut in the milking routine
Adapted from a presentation made by Dr. Andrew P. Johnson, DVM at the 2003 Kentucky Dairy Conference
One of the biggest misconceptions at most dairies is lack of time to do all the necessary steps in a milking routine. Many dairies are so driven by efficiency they lose focus on quality milk. Based on dairies ranging from 100 to over 10,000 cows, it’s possible to implement a full milking routine, get the desired efficiency and produce higher quality milk. Cutting corners in the milk routine usually increases milking time, not shortening it. Still, the most important factor is consistency of the milking routine. Having a milking routine that every one can follow at every milking is critical to success.
Territorial Routine - Without a doubt, a territorial milking routine where one milker works in a group of cows and does the entire milking routine to that group, will give you the most consistent milking performance and fastest milking.
Gloves -Every milking routine should start by having the milkers wear milking gloves. Keeping the gloves clean by periodically sticking them in a bucket of warm water and sanitizer or by using automatic faucets to clean them in a parlor is equally important.
Lag Time - Studies have shown the ideal lag time from the start of the milking routine to unit attachment is 60 seconds. On many of the dairies there is a wide variation in lag time, depending on who is doing the milking.
Pre-Dipping -Pre-dipping is an excellent way to control environmental bacteria as well as Staph Aureus, which tends to colonize on the teat skin.
Fore-Stripping - Herds that fore-strip will have faster milking, lower SCC, and actually get more milk production. Evaluating data on one Dairy Comp herd showed that fore-stripped cows had 3-9 pounds more milk than cows not fore-stripped.
Drying - The most important step in both the cleaning and stimulation of the teat is drying. The drying towel removes the most bacteria from the teat and provides extra stimulation to the teats.
Post-Dipping - Once the units are removed from the cow, teats should be dipped with an effective teat dip. Proper teat dipping is a teat that has 75-90% coverage on the entire teat.
The Benefit - Extra money in quality premiums should not be the driving force to producing quality milk. Research has clearly shown herds with lower SCC make more profit through the production of more milk. Under most circumstances, the milking routine can be the key reason for the production of quality milk. The challenge is to make sure every one on the dairy farm clearly understands the importance of a consistent milking routine and implements this routine at every milking.
Key Factors to Ensure a Calm, Consistent Milking Routine
Improving Profits Through Milk Quality at Little or No Additional Cost
Andrew P. Johnson, DVM