By using Lactocorder flow meters we can demonstrate and document the effect of proper stimulation and oxytocin release on milk let-down. Milkers must understand a few basic principles:
• Sufficient stimulation of the teats (3-4 strips from each teat) is necessary to obtain oxytocin release and efficient let-down.
• The process of oxytocin release takes time. This is why we generally recommend a prep-lag time of 90-120 seconds.
• Rough handling or inadequate stimulation will limit oxytocin release and inhibit milk let-down.
If milkers understand this process, it will hopefully be obvious that a bit of extra time stimulating the cow prior to unit attachment will decrease unit on-time, rather than add time to the turn, as many milkers think. Again, these are basic concepts, but do the people doing the job really understand the cow?
There are many other examples where knowledge will empower individuals to do a better job. Taking the time to explain the processes and why we have specific protocols should lead to improved compliance in all areas of the dairy. Teach the “why”, not just the “how”.