Hawke's Bay Today
Prevent mastitis in your cows
Udder health and milk quality are important to farm productivity and profitability ANIMAL HEALTH with
Mastitis in New Zealand dairy cattle is our sector’s most common (and costly) disease. “Cows with healthy udders have less mastitis, produce more and are easier to milk,” says Steve.
“Maintaining good teat skin condition is essential to reduce the chance of bacteria multiplying on the teats and getting into the udder. In addition, adopting good milking routines will help reduce the mastitis risk from teat end damage caused by over-milking.”
MaxT a possible solution
MaxT (maximum milking time) is a strategy which defers residual milk to the next milking, where it can be harvested more efficiently. Cows are milked to a predetermined end-point — either to a fixed time point, or to a set milk flow rate threshold, whichever comes first.
Using the fixed time point, the idea is to estimate when about 80 per cent of cows would have completed milking and remove the cup clusters from the remaining 20 per cent.
Research shows the implementation of MaxT can increase the number of cows milked each hour in many New Zealand dairies, with no loss of milk yield and no increase in mastitis or somatic cell count (SCC). MaxT’s principles are based on harnessing basic cow physiology.
How the udder works
Milk is held in two compartments of the udder: the cistern (a bag above the teat) holds around 20 per cent of the milk, and the alveoli (the udder tissue cells where the milk is made) holds the remaining 80 per cent.
When clusters are attached, the milk harvested in the first few minutes is from the cistern; then the milk ejection or let-down reflex is triggered. This causes the remaining milk to move from the alveoli into the cistern, where the machine can harvest it.
Cows whose clusters are removed early show a greater milk flow rate during the first few removers, don’t let cows go around twice. The platform speed should be as fast as practical, so cows get milked out about three-quarters of the way round — without rushing staff. Once cows reach the exit, out they go.”
Steve says it’s all about ficiency, not cutting corners.
“Effective teat-spraying is critical for mastitis control, so make sure you have a good set-up. If you make changes to milking efficiency, it’s important to keep monitoring teat condition too.” ■ Dr Steve Cranefield is a mastitis
expert and AgriHealth vet
A great tip is to look down the row. If the bowls are all dry, then the cows are being over-milked. In rotary sheds without cup removers, don’t let cows go around twice.