Editor’s note: This article was written by David R. Bray with the University of Florida and first appeared in the University of Florida Dairy Update.

The hospital herd can be milked in a separate parlor on some dairies or in the main parlor on other dairies. The choice is yours. Being in the hospital herd is stressful enough: new roommates, new place to eat and drink and guess what, and usually a new way to be milked.

The Parlor. We have devised milking schemes to milk clean dry udders to get the milking units on the cows about one minute from the start of stimulation to get maximum milk out. This allows the cows to get back to their stalls within a 1 hour time limit.

The hospital herd production (no matter where the cows are housed). Everything changes when the hospital herd is milking. We must break the line so no antibiotic or bad milk gets into the tank. Wash the walls and the floors a little bit. Since the hospital herd often is far away and those lame cows don’t move fast, we go out a little early to start the cattle drive to the parlor. They stand all bunched for an hour while finishing the herd cows. We then break the line, get the hospital list to see who is in the parlor and find the supervisor who leads the production. With the cows finally in the parlor, the milking begins. A guy in a clean cap and shirt and pants enters the parlor with a clipboard, followed by some guy with dirtier clothes, followed by an exhausted guy who already milked a shift. They start with the first cow. Mr. Clean looks at his clipboard. The second guy looks at the cow and squirts a little milk out of each quarter and third guy squirts more milk. They all talk about how the cow is and what will be done. The same thing is done to the next cow. This procedure may take about an hour before the units are hung on this side. They move to side two where the same thing is done again. We now have hung a machine on a sick cow with no stimulation, so she is not going to milk out because this does not resemble her milking routine. Now they go back to these cows and do treatments.

Proper mastitis treatment procedures (If you can’t be good at least be sanitary).

1. Everyone who touches an udder wears gloves that are sanitized between each cow and dried with a clean towel. If milk samples are taken, label the bottle with the necessary information.

2. Wash and dry the udders and teats and pre-strip them.

3. Sanitize the teats to be sampled. Sanitize the teats away from you first with alcohol pads. Allow alcohol to dry because alcohol kills by drying, so a big globe of alcohol on the teat is not good.

4. Open the bottle, then sample the teats closest to you so not to get your arms on clean sanitized teats.

5. Squirt milk in the bottle and close the bottle immediately. Sample other teats if needed on that cow.

6. Keep samples in a cooler and covered to keep the bottle clean before and after sampling.

7. Contaminates are airborne, even mycoplasma, so turn off fans while sampling if it’s breezy in the pit.

Treatment procedures:

1. Sanitize and dry gloved hands.

2. Clean teats to be treated as in above.

3. Use partial insertion tips if possible.

4. Massage drug in the udder.

5. Dip teats after done.

6. Write down what was done to each cow and record when the cow’s milk will be safe to go in the tank.

Other concerns:

1. Are you following treatment instructions?

2. Treating at proper intervals: 12 hours or 24 hours?

3. Use correct doses.

4. If exceeding label directions. Are you sure you have the proper withdrawal time?

5. Has your veterinarian been consulted about your treatment choices and procedures? They should be advising you on treatment choices and procedures, not the head milker or some guy who writes articles in magazines.

Results. Lame cows get lamer because of standing on concrete for two hours. The mastitis cows are not milked out because they had no let-down. These cows have to return to their part time home and lay down because they are exhausted, hot and miserable. They don’t eat and then get digestive problems. DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR HOSPITAL HERD ROUTINE IS?

Source: University of Florida