Proper prep, equipment settings improve dairy quality, profitability


LITITZ, Pa. – Whether milking in a tie-stall or parlor system, large herd or small, “we still milk our cows one cow at a time,” said David Reid, director of milk harvest technologies for Bou-Matic.
“Our primary goal is to get as much milk as we can and good quality from every cow. Better performance is based on proper prepping, which in turn allows us to milk more cows.”
Reid is a former dairy practitioner and milk quality educator with a long history of recognition for his involvement with the National Mastitis Council.
He has been a featured speaker at several milking performance seminars hosted by Lancaster Dairy/Tri-State Farm Automation over the past seven years.
A challenge. Reid challenges his audiences to look for the weak link on the dairy, then make a change, and find a way to monitor that change.
“Never make a final diagnosis until you complete the physical exam,” the former herd veterinarian says, noting that this is the single best reason to use milk meters.
“If I can get that information captured effortlessly and electronically, it will tell me the result of the change I make.”
The core element of performance and profitability is information management, which evaluates the cows (production and flow rate); the people (monitoring prepping performance); and the equipment (identify and diagnose problems early).
Consistency. “This information has improved udder prepping consistency for us,” said Frey Dairy operations manager Dean Weidman and herd manager Tom England.
“To do better, people need to have feedback. Good information yields confidence in milker performance, which allows us to be more aggressive with our equipment settings. The information also allows us to monitor the results.”
By analyzing flow-rate patterns during milking, takeoff settings and vacuum levels can be adjusted for better flow and faster milking – provided that proper prepping has been established.
By increasing flow rates, unit-on time is decreased, and cows are less likely to be overmilked.
It all comes down to reducing the amount of time the cow milks in low-flow, which has a significantly positive impact on teat-end health.
Profitability. According to Reid, this all contributes to profitability as defined by milk per stall per hour.
With proper prepping and optimal equipment settings, producers can expect higher production, faster milking and a smoother, more rapid turnover in the parlor.
“You don’t have time to wait for the outliers to milk out completely,” Reid said.
“Once you’ve gotten to this point, the majority rules. You won’t hurt the cows or lose milk by kicking off the one or two on the side to improve throughput.”
‘Not true.’ “The myth is that under-milking leads to mastitis. Not true. More prepping time, improved flow and less unit-on time


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