Industry-wide, advances have been made in cow cleanliness and sanitation. “We also now have the tools to hygienescore cows,” Daniels says. “There has been new technology introduced with pre-dipping and more attention to stall cleanliness.”
Geni Wren is editor of Bovine Veternarian, a sister publication of Dairy Herd Management
Where we’ve improved
Good management is at the heart of improved milk quality.
Which management practices yield the highest return? Research by the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) offers insight into this. And, since the agency conducts dairy-specific studies every five years, there is a basis for gauging how management practices have changed over time.
Jason Lombard, veterinarian and dairy specialist with NAHMS, points out the following:
• A higher percentage of operations fore-stripped cows in 2007 compared with 2002.
• The use of single-use cloths or towels for drying teats increased from 2002 to 2007. The single-use paper towel was the most common drying method used in 2002 and 2007. In summer and winter, the percentage of operations that air-dried teats prior to milking decreased from about 27 percent in 2002 to about 12 percent in 2007.
• More milkers wear gloves during milking. The percentage of operations at which milkers wore gloves to milk cows increased from 32.9 percent in 2002 to 55.2 percent in 2007. The percentage of cows on operations where milkers wore gloves increased from 48.7 percent in 2002 to 76.8 percent in 2007.
• More operations used automatic takeoffs in 2007 compared with 2002. Specifically, operations that used automatic takeoffs increased from 36 percent in 2002 to 45.4 percent in 2007.
Improved management in milking parlors is helping to bring down somatic cell counts. • The ideal bedding for lactating cows is dry and clean, provides cushion, and does not support bacterial growth. The percent of cows on sand bedding has doubled – 15.3 percent in 1996 to 30.3 percent in 2007. Nine percent of cows were bedded on composted manure in 1996 compared with 24.2 percent in 2007. Mattresses showed a large increase, as well.