Milkability Evaluation

Although some research suggests that only 5% of mastitis risk is likely attributable to milking equipment faults, on-farm troubleshooting suggests it is higher in the general population of dairies and may be much higher on specific dairies. In addition to mastitis risk, milking equipment performance affects other factors critical to animal welfare concerns and profitability of the dairy. Proper function and fine-tuning of milking equipment crucially affects cow comfort, cow length of life (culling), teat health, and milking speed. Milking speed, both milking too slow or too fast directly impacts cow comfort and cow health. In addition, proper functioning of milking equipment affects energy efficiency (sustainability), and labor costs and welfare. If you have ever been frustrated by milking cows, especially over a long time period, and where equipment function is poor, you can relate to its’ negative impact on labor satisfaction with their job.

Milk Quality Pays has an in depth and unique knowledge of milking equipment function, particularly through evaluations at the cow level and during milking, as well as management records, and labor management. All of these factors can be summarized to provide a more accurate assessment of farm milkability at any point in time and across time.

Milkability Evaluation and Training Services:

  1. Dynamic testing of equipment function during milking and preferably with different lactation groups
    • Cow teat size varies within farm based on stage of lactation and age; the goal is to evaluate equipment function across herd and also within potential high risk groups to determine the range of milkability across these groups
    • Customized reports of single milking event and across milkings
      • For example, evaluations can be done before or when considering change in liner style, modifications to system settings
    • Testing can evaluate the following:
      • mastitis risk at milking
      • teat ends and skin health status and risk
      • teat end vacuum
      • mouthpiece vacuum
      • irregular vacuum fluctuation
      • cow comfort in early, peak, and low flow periods
      • pulsation rate, ratio, phase time during milking
      • time in early, peak, and low flow by cow groups
      • rubber parts integrity (liners, wash/jetter cups, hoses)
  2. Evaluate throughput on dairies to investigate animal handling, labor efficiency, wash time, idle time, ability to manage additional cows milked in the facility
  3. Train individuals or groups (companies, dairies, equipment dealers, veterinary clinics, plant field representatives, college classes)
    • milking equipment function
    • testing of milking equipment
    • mastitis risk associated with milking equipment
    • records system used to evaluate milking equipment function (Dairy Plan, DelPro, AFI, DairyComp305, PCDART, etc.)
  4. Facilitate routine maintenance and repair work of milking equipment with dealerships, manufacturers, and individual consultants
    • Monitor routine pulsation records by the dealership
    • Facilitate team meetings with milking equipment dealer to address concerns
    • Develop SOPs for milking equipment maintenance and repair work
    • Work with milking equipment dealer to understand and make recommended changes to equipment based on testing
  5. Prepare Grants and submit to funding agencies on Milkability issues across herds
  6. Conduct Research, Analyze Data, and Prepare Reports to document outcome of Milking Equipment practices on-farm
    • For example, test products on-farm to determine best fit to improve cow comfort on-farm(s)
    • This service can be provided for large to mid-size dairies, groups of dairies, and/or for companies
  7. Test Milking Equipment associated products (off-brand products) for farms, groups of farms, and/or businesses
  8. Conduct a complete NMC (formerly National Mastitis Council) evaluation of milking equipment performance
  9. Assist farms with summarizing bid submissions for new milking facilities or retrofit milking center purchase decisions