Milking routine

  • Blocked air admission holes

    Air admission hole blocked with muck

    It started as just a routine machine test by Rob, but it ended up being a whole lot more important!

    He quickly discovered a significant number of blocked claw air admission holes, some even took a bit of scraping with a screwdriver to find the air admission hole!

  • Cows, machines & people - managing the risk of mastitis

    Cups crawling up teats

    Russell and Stuart both manage family farms milking about 450 cows in a rotary dairy without automatic cup removers.

    In the couple of months leading up to and just after Christmas, both farms had seen a rise in Bulk Milk Cell Count (BMCC) and both had experienced an increased number of clinical cases of mastitis.

    Interestingly, both Russell and Stuart had a suspicion that something about their milking process was influencing their risk of mastitis.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Managing mastitis risk in the dairy

    On a typical dairy farm, the milking process contributes about 60% of the risk of mastitis on that farm.


    Countdown has given us a great set of definitions for best practice, and Dairy Focus has now added the ability to precisely assess and measure each element of mastitis risk in the dairy and then combine them into an Overall Mastitis Risk Score.

  • 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.

  • Protect your teat spray nozzles

    Protected teat spray nozzle

    Teat disinfection is the most important action in the dairy during milking for mastitis control - yet it is also one of the hardest actions in which to achieve best practice.

    Best practice is 100% coverage of 100% of teats, which generally requires a minimum of 20 ml of teat disinfectant (teat spray) through a well-adjusted nozzle which gives a good “splat” pattern.

    Spray nozzles often get knocked around in the dairy from hitting steel and concrete and as the nozzle wears away, it affects the spray pattern produced by the gun, making it dificult to achieve good coverage of teats.

    Replacing the guns is an expensive exercise, so here’s a tip to help preserve those 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?"

  • Wash & dry!

    Two core principles behind mastitis control are to minimise the number of bacteria on teat skin and to maximise & maintain teat end health.

    Whilst pre-milking teat preparation is not routinely used in most Australian herds, there is good evidence that targeted use can be of significant benefit.

    In situations where there is excessive exposure of teats to mud and/or faecal material, the introduction of a pre-milking wash & dry routine can significantly reduce the number of bacteria on the teat surface and hence the risk of mastitis.

    Removal of this contamination also allows the teat disinfectant to get to the skin, maximising the chances of both killing bacteria and getting emollient to the skin surface to improve teat skin health.

    Remember that "gold" standard is to have cups going onto clean, dry teats after the cow has had a milk let-down.

  • When milking became a warzone!

    Flies annoying cows in the dairy

    Paul* had made some small but significant changes to both his milking equipment and milking routine after our initial visit had exposed some mastitis risks that he had been unaware of.

    A change to a different liner, a small change to system vacuum and a change in the milking routine to ensure that teats were disinfected much sooner after cup removal in his 36-a-side herringbone were the key changes that had been made.

    Four weeks after he had made those changes, it was time for a re-assessment to ensure that the changes had actually resulted in a reduced risk of mastitis infections.

  • Will "it" happen to you this mating season?

    Drying teats

    “It” happened last year.

    Actually, “it” has happened each year for a number of years.

    So “it” will probably happen again this year!

    What is “it”? Will you be affected by “it” this year?

    Each year we see a number of farms where a mating synchrony program has been accompanied by an outbreak of clinical mastitis – either during the mating program, or immediately after.

  • Will a heatwave affect your risk of mastitis?

    Summer has arrived and temperatures are soaring, especially in Northern Victoria, and farms expecting these conditions will be making plans to help the cows cope with the heat.

    Echuca forecast for a heat wave

    Source: - 13/1/2014

    Dairy Australia's Cool Cows website ( has a large amount of information to assist herds in managing heat stress.

    However, there is commonly an increase in the risk of mastitis under these conditions – is it possible to reduce or at least manage that risk?

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