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Is your pre-milking routine correct? – Part 1: Find out what our experts suggest!

When milking cows, a correct preparation stage is crucial for adequate oxytocin release and an overall improvement of the process. Here is our advice on how to make the most out of this phase!

 As the first Blog episode of the year, let’s start by talking about the very initial part of the milking process: pre-milking. Maciej Dyrka and Ghislain Coppejans, our Regional Sales Managers, will help you understand why this phase should be prioritized, and will share their expert suggestions with you.

Pre-milking: gentleness, quiet, consistency

We started by asking our experts why pre-milking is important, and this is what they said: “Cows like comfort and a stress-free environment, therefore a primary step is making sure milkers apply a consistent preparation method, to ensure a gentle, efficient milking processPre-milking itself is composed of a series of actions, which play an essential stimulation role, as they determine a correct oxytocin release. The better this phase, the faster the milk release, the higher the peak flow in the first 2 minutes, and the shorter, more complete the process.

 If you are eager to learn about the benefits of proper stimulation, as well as the aftermath of a wrong one, make sure not to miss the next Blog episode!

 Take notes: these are the steps for correct pre-milking!

 We already listed the actions to be taken before milking, for proper teat stimulation, in our previous Blog post. Though, according to Maciej and Ghislain, something crucial should happen before starting: checking how milkers work, through an analysis of the pre-milking routine:

 “I suggest carrying out a survey to know their habits and opinions, how they observe and treat the cows and how competent they are. For full understanding of preparation efficiency, I record milking for 15-20 minutes without influencing milkers’ activities. Pre-milking procedures aim for a prep-lag time of between 60 and 120 seconds between first stimulation of teats and attaching the units.”

 After this step, the following ones should take place:

  1. Observe the physical effort made by the milker, which comes first to ensure efficient pre-treatment. The aim is to have a safe working environment where the right ergonomic working posture can be adopted.
  1. Another crucial premise is ensuring your animals are relaxed and not stressed, by:
  • Checking their hooves.
  • Making sure the floor is not slippery.
  • Creating a calm, quiet, well-lit and ventilated environment, without loud or sudden noises.

Cows must not feel forced to enter a parlour, they should enjoy walking into it and being milked, therefore a well-oriented waiting room with enough space is very important for a perfect cow-flow.

A well-functioning waiting area has a sloping floor towards the milking parlour, which allows cows to enter it automatically.

  1. Before starting, make sure you are using clean, disinfected gloves, and that clusters are in perfect conditions, especially their rubber parts. Liners should have been used for less than 2500 milkings, vents need to be open, and clusters must be properly cleansed and sanitised.
  1. Then, it is time to evaluate how clean teats and udders are through a cleanliness score, and thus wash dirty ones.
  1. Our experts then suggest proceeding with the strip-foam-dry-attach method.

Along with stimulating the udder, the stripping phase enables checking the conditions of the milk, which indicates upcoming mastitis and eliminates the part with the highest number of bacteria. Therefore, milk should enter a “pre-milker” bucket carefully, without falling on the ground or on cows’ hooves, to avoid the spread of infection.

To achieve optimal stimulation, milk should be stripped at least 3 times from each teat. During this phase, take the chance to observe:

  • How healthy teats are, spotting any blue teat or ring. This might be facilitated by a well-lit parlour.
  • Cows’ behaviour when stripping. Any sign of restlessness might indicate an issue in the process or any health problem.
  • The milk in the “pre-milker” bucket. In fact, you can spot any change in its consistency, indicating mastitis at an early stage. This will contribute to detecting the disease on time and treating it faster.

Gathering this information throughout milking sessions will help you adjust your routine and maximize its efficiency.

Milkers should follow a specific order, that is starting from the furthest milking point:

  • If right-handed, the milker should start with the left-front quarter of the cow’s udder, then the right-front one. Next the left-rear quarter of the cow’s udder and finish with the right-rear one. 
  • If left-handed, the milker should start with the right-front quarter of the cow’s udder, then the left-front one. Next the right-rear quarter of the cow’s udder and finish with the left-rear one. 
  1. Teats then need to be foamed. The pre-dip should be left on for 30 to 35 seconds, depending on manufacturers’ instructions.
  1. The next step is to dry the teats with a towel. Making sure to use one towel per cow and every clean quarter of the towel per teat. Cleaning the end of the teat is crucial, as most bacteria reside at the end of the teat canal.
  1. 60 to 120 seconds after stripping, the cluster can be attached, making sure it is correctly positioned. If necessary, use a special cluster support to keep the right position under the udder. Cluster and teat cups must be positioned in a balanced way to achieve optimal weight distribution to avoid slippage and fall-offs. To milk quarters evenly and completely, teat cups should hang freely, without performing lateral force.

To understand if cows are comfortable during milking, it could be useful to see how many of them ruminate. If at least 75% of them do, then the process can be considered well set-up.

We hope this insight into how to obtain an effective pre-milking phase will be useful to improve the efficiency of your process. Though, this is not all we would like to share with you: make sure not to miss our next Blog post about stimulation, where we will provide you with other crucial tips! 

milkrite | InterPuls thank Maciej Dyrka and Ghislain Coppejans for their support.

 

 

 

Date: 12 January 2022

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