Smarter milking to increase efficiency and reduce repetitive strain injuries
Padraig O’Connor, Teagasc Milking Technician, recently gave a presentation on Smarter Milking in order to reduce repetitive strain injuries and how to improve milking efficiency. Here Nicholas McKenna, Dairy Specialist focuses on the objectives of a good milking routine in order to Milk Smarter
So what are the objectives of a good milking routine, and what aspects should be focused on in order to make milking easier and more efficient?
The objectives of a good milking routine are as follows:
- Produce high quality milk
- Safety for the milker and the cows
- Efficient use of time spent milking
There are six main areas to focus on during the milking routine which will help achieve the above objectives most efficiently.
Preparation for milking
Have the parlour ready for milking before going to for the cows, this reduces stress caused by standing around. Wet down the parlour before starting and wear a clean milking apron as well as disposable nitrile gloves, ensure these are cleaned regularly during the milking process. “The milker is a conduit between the machine and the cows” therefore cleanliness is essential
Allow the cows to filter into the parlour on their own, do not let cows get into the habit of having to be pushed in from the collecting yard.
Preparing the cow
To produce safe quality milk, cleanliness is of huge importance
Clusters must be put onto clean dry teats. If cows need to be washed then the teats must be dried with paper towels.
Preparing in batches
Preparing in batches improves milking efficiency. Preparing 5 cows and then transferring the clusters as you move back the pit can save a lot of time. Spraying as you go also allows the milker to open the exit gate earlier and let cows walk out at their own pace.
In the video below (at approx 5:25mins) Padraig O’Connor, Teagasc Milking Technician touches on the idea of ‘bunny hopping’ - A technique used in parlours with two milkers, where they work down the parlour prepping, milking and spraying whilst interchanging along the way.
A cluster can weigh on average 3kgs so it is important to spread out that weight as much as possible in order to reduce repetitive strain injuries. Use both hands!
Milkers should alternate hands depending what side of the parlour they are working.
- When applying clusters to the cows on the right hand side, the unit should be held in the left hand and clusters attached with the right.
- On the left hand side, the unit should be held in the right hand and clusters attached using the left.
15mls/cow/milking should be applied when spraying teats.
10mls/cow/milking should be applied when dipping teats.
Benefits of a good milking routine
In summary then, the benefits that can be seen from having a good milking routine include:
- Consistent production of top quality milk.
- Increased parlour efficiency.
- Consistent milking for cows and milkers.
- Reduced repetitive strain injuries.
- Less mastitis and reduced SCC.
- More profitability.
Watch Recording on Smarter Milking below