Animal Health & Welfare
- Dairy cow welfare strategy
- Biosecurity and diseases
- Cow Culling
- Pathogens - The cause of mastitis
- Symptoms of Mastitis
- Working Arena - prevention of infection
- Welfare assessment
- Breeding & Genetics
- Business Management
- Grassland Management
- People Management
- Planning for Profit
The milking routine can have a profoundly critical effect on the incidence of mastitis in the dairy herd, as contagious forms of mastitis spread easily via the milking equipment and even the milkers themselves.
Parlour routines involve a variety of factors, ranging from the order in which cows are milked - limiting the spread of pathogens from infected cows to the more susceptible animals - to the use of chemicals and processes to disinfect and sanitise the cows' teats and keep the milking equipment free from harmful bacteria.
As milking hygiene is integral to the control and reduction of mastitis, several aspects of parlour routine are discussed and explained elsewhere, namely the importance of lag-time on milk let-down when attaching the milking equipment after fore-milking or wiping the teats and the use of automated processes to disinfect milking equipment between cows. A consistent milking pattern - with standardised gaps between milkings and a consistent routine - will help stop milk leakage out-of-parlour, which is important in controlling mastitis pathogen spread.
Although routines vary between farms, parlour types, different systems and so on, the recognised order, once the cows are in the parlour, is to:
- Wash the teats, then wipe dry with a clean dry cloth or towel.
- Foremilk, checking for any symptoms of mastitis or irregularities in the milk.
- Pre-dip the teats, allowing sufficient time for the product to work, then wipe dry with a clean dry cloth or towel.
- Attach the cluster unit, ensuring the clusters are squarely attached and aligned and balanced centrally.
During milking, cluster units should be cleaned if soiled, preferably in warm disinfectant solution. In-line mastitis filters, if fitted, should be checked regularly and the main filter or filter sock should be checked after milking for any clots or other irregularities which may indicate clinical symptoms of mastitis, and may indeed indicate other problems, such as large amounts of soiling due to bad milking techniques or technical problems with the milking plant.