Sometimes it can be tempting to move cows through the parlor faster and skip a procedure. But you should never do that. The procedures are there for a reason.
Taking shortcuts will cost you more time in the long run because the cows can develop an infection known as mastitis. If you do not follow proper procedure, mastitis can be spread from sick cows to healthy cows.
Here is why you need to follow the procedures closely:
It is important to wear rubber or latex gloves, so you can wash your hands frequently. Germs do not stick to gloves like they do the crevices in your hands.
Forestripping stimulates the cow to release her milk, eliminates milk with higher somatic cells in the teat end, and allows you to look for abnormal milk that comes from cows with clinical mastitis. (Cows with clinical mastitis need to be identified so they can receive special treatment.)
Strip milk onto the floor. Do not strip it into your hands or towel.
Dirt on the teat ends contains germs that cause mastitis. Pre-dipping kills these germs. You want to take care of this situation before the cow is milked. It improves milk quality and also avoids the possible risk of having germs sucked into the udder if the milking unit isn’t performing properly.
Use a clean and dry towel for each cow — do not use the same towel over again on another cow. Wipe each teat of the cow. Try to use a clean section of towel for each teat. If there is one teat that is extremely dirty, use another towel to clean this one teat.
Make sure towels are dry because germs grow in moisture and wet towels do not remove moisture. Teats should be dry and clean before attaching the milking unit.
Do not spray udders with water. Spraying water on the udder spreads germs to other teats and the milking equipment.
Make sure the milking unit is straight and balanced after attachment. If it is not balanced, it may squawk, which indicates a liner slip. If this happens, germs can get forced backwards — up the teat end and into the udder, which causes mastitis.
Attaching the milking unit at the right time is also important. When a cow enters the milking parlor, her teats are cleaned and wiped. This stimulates her body to let down milk. It is important that the unit be attached between 40 and 90 seconds after stimulation to capture the most milk possible.
Make sure that each teat gets covered with post dip. Make sure the entire teat gets covered. Post-dipping is the only defense the cow has against mastitis germs when she leaves the parlor. Poor teat-dipping will cause more mastitis to occur.
Be calm and quiet
Workers should maintain a calm and quiet environment while milking and handling cows. Use a consistent pattern to bring cows into the parlor. Stress causes cows to release adrenaline, which is bad. Adrenaline works against the hormone oxytocin. You don’t want that to happen, because oxytocin causes the cow to release her milk.
Keep cows standing for a while
Offer cows fresh feed to prevent cows from lying down immediately after milking. The time spent eating allows the muscle in the teat canal to close. This helps prevent germs from getting into the udder. You want the cows to get plenty of rest, but it’s a good thing if you can get them to stay on their feet long enough to eat right after milking.