• "Dribble" Finish

    Dribble finish to milking visible in claw bowl

    The accompanying image looks simple enough – in fact, it is a common sight during milking in many Australian dairies.

    Taken just before cups off, the image shows a narrow stream of milk dribbling down the wall of the claw bowl from each of the two quarters that we can see.

    This clearly shows what we call a “dribble finish” to milking, and a dribble finish is NOT normal!!

    How does this come about?

  • An unintended consequence

    Teat disinfectant on teats after spraying

    Cameron* was feeling comfortable.

    The expansion plan for the family farm had gone well. He had secured a long term lease on the block next door, added another 50 cows (with plans for more), extended the dairy shed, and employed a labour unit to assist the family on the farm.

    The new season had started well. It had been a wet spring, but there had been very little clinical mastitis during calving and the spring, and the farm’s Bulk Milk Cell Count (BMCC) had sat comfortably below 150,000 cells/ml all that time.

    But as they moved into summer, things started to come unstuck.

  • Culling Considerations

    I never really liked 2036.

    She was the wild one as a calf. Then as a heifer she had a “spooky” look in her eye and she was always the one who went the wrong way when trying to get a mob through a gate.

    After having calved she caused our sharemilker some grief trying to break her in, so it was no surprise that when it was my turn to milk at the weekend, he warned me to “be a bit careful” with her.

    Both Saturday milkings had been uneventful, so maybe my guard was down, but on a cold frosty Sunday morning, she got me with a well-timed and savage kick, flush on my frozen fingers.

    As tears welled up in my eyes, I muttered “That’s it, you’re gone!”, but probably using a lot more colourful language and at high volume!

  • Handy spray can holster

    Belt mounted spray can holster

    This spray can holster is a really great idea when you are marking lots of cows in busy times of the year like at calving.

    Except if you need it for a hospital herd full of mastitis cases, you probably need to look at more than just a spray can holder.........

    It is also very handy for your spray bottle of 70% alcohol disinfectant whilst doing a herd strip. (Because you do sterilise your gloves regularly whilst strip testing the herd, don't you?)

  • Heat increases mastitis risk

    Cow in a hot, dry paddock

    Once again, this could be a long, hot summer.

    Farms expecting these conditions will now be making plans to help the cows cope with the heat, especially in those regions where temperatures and/or humidity can be extreme.

    For those farms wanting more information, or to check their current strategy, Dairy Australia's Cool Cows website ( is a fabulous resource with a large amount of information to assist herds in managing heat stress.

  • How's your vacuum?

    During a recent farm visit, routine milking time testing of the milking machines in this dairy quickly showed that the system vacuum was at 39 kPa – very low for a highline swingover herringbone!

    We immediately went looking for the dairy’s vacuum gauge, and after a brief Sherlock Holmes detective effort, we finally found the gauge way up high in the middle of a mass of pipework, facing towards one side of the herringbone.

  • Is it too hot in the "kitchen"?

    Drum of teat spray out in the sun

    Summer is almost here, and there will be some very hot days as well as consistently high temperatures coming, especially in some of our warmer regions.

    Unfortunately, heat and sunlight can be an enemy of many products which are used on farms.

    One of the more interesting cases is the effect of heat and sunlight on teat disinfectants.

    Many of our teat disinfectant products have some quite interesting storage warnings on their labels.

  • It is normal, isn't it?

    Automatic cup remover hanging on removal

    Recent milking time visits to a number of different dairy sheds have reminded me that “normal” means different things to different people.

    Cup removal is always an interesting part of the milking routine to observe – in both manual and automatic systems.

  • It is tiny, but it is important

    air admission hole in claw body

    It is only a tiny part of your milking plant, and it can sometimes be very unobtrusively placed, but it is critical to the ability of your milking plant to function correctly.

    Naturally this tiny part of your plant is the claw air admission hole.

  • Keep an open mind

    Teat disinfectant spray on teats

    During the milking process in any dairy, there are a substantial number of factors which can influence the risk of mastitis infections.

    The Countdown Farm Guidelines and the supporting Countdown Technotes describe these factors very well, and also how to measure and assess them.

    It takes a reasonable amount of time to conduct all the necessary assessments during milking, and it may not always be possible to complete all the tasks in one milking – especially if it is a relatively short milking or there is only one adviser conducting the assessment.

  • Managing Mastitis Risk during Milking

    We have now scored nearly 100 dairy sheds around Australia using the Dairy Focus Mastitis Risk Assessment,

    The results show the key factors most commonly associated with increased risk of mastitis in our herds.

    We have summarised these findings in a newsletter - Managing Mastitis Risk in Lactation - The Dairy.

  • Milking efficiency

    Many herds could be taking advantage of simple, proven techniques for more efficient milk harvesting.

    A skilled appraisal of the milking process to see which are applicable to your herd could have you milking quicker and more efficiently, without increasing the risk of mastitis.

  • Must we accept more mastitis in wet weather?

    Clinical case of mastitis

    Some of our dairy regions have experienced a wet winter for the first time in a number of years, and many farms have found it a test of their patience as well as a test of their infrastructure and systems.

    One of the issues associated with the wet weather has been an increase in milk quality problems in terms of both mastitis and Bactoscan results on some farms.

    As the spring calving winds down, it is an ideal opportunity for each farm to consider that calving period in terms of milk quality outcomes.

    How many cases of mastitis occurred during that calving period? How many is too many?

  • Paper towel holster/dispenser

    Belt mounted paper towel holster

    We saw this great idea for a paper towel holster/dispenser last week.

    Paper towels are always at the ready if needed - every teat that gets washed, gets dried!

    It is just one of the protocols put in place that are really making a difference on this farm.

    Want more hints on washing & drying?

    Here's a link for some hints on easy washing & drying - "Wash & Dry" >>> 

  • Protect your teat spray nozzles

    Teat spray nozzle protected with rubber

    Teat spray nozzles can lead a hard life!

    The plastic ends do not cope well with concrete in dairies, they can wear rapidly, and replacement spray guns are not cheap!

    A simple method of protecting nozzles with rubber from an old used liner can save the nozzle from the ravages of life in a dairy, significantly extending their lifespan.

    Read more: Protect your teat spray nozzles

  • The power of numbers

    Cows being milked

    "We work really hard to get the cell count down, and then it just takes off on us, and we don't seem to be able to stop it."

    The frustration was clearly obvious at a meeting with the farm team on this 300 cow farm.

    "How can it spread so quickly?"

  • Time for a change

    Cups & liners

    Recently, I was returning home from two farm visits at which I discovered that both farms had been dutifully replacing their rubber teat cup liners every twelve months, just as they had done for many years.

    While I was contemplating liner change intervals in the car, I passed a car on the side of the road accompanied by a police car with lights flashing.

    Because the traffic was slow, I observed the driver and the policeman having what appeared to be an animated discussion whilst pointing to what were obviously very bald tyres on the car.

  • Two hints to reduce the risk of mastitis at calving

    Many herds have either just started spring calving or are just about to, and in many cases that will be in wet & muddy conditions.

    For each cow, the calving period (2 weeks before calving until 2 weeks after) is the highest risk period for new mastitis infections, and wet conditions significantly increase that risk of mastitis.

    Most new mastitis infections in this calving period are likely to be environmental (commonly Strep uberis), and for this infection to occur, the teat must come into contact with contaminated material (generally mud and/or faeces).

  • What is the price of risk?

    MIlking cluster

    Recently, I dropped one of the family cars into the service centre in the morning for what I expected to be a normal routine service.

    It was a big surprise a couple of hours later to sit listening on one end of the phone as the mechanic ran through a list of items on the car that needed attention.

    But my mood seriously worsened when he told me the total estimated cost!

  • When old becomes new

    Platform on herringbone dairy

    Split calving and long lactations have become the norm in much of our industry now, so it was a bit of a surprise when we were contacted recently by a farm in Gippsland that is strictly seasonal, meaning the whole herd is dried-off and milking ceases completely over the dry period until calving starts.

    As part of our normal process, a history of Bulk Milk Cell Counts (BMCC) for the last two years was obtained for this herd and then charted with a trend line included.

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