There are many factors that can affect milk quality and udder health in dairy cattle, and milking equipment is one of them, according to information from Virginia Tech. Milking machines may adversely affect udder health by damaging or changing the resistance of the cow’s first line of defense: teat skin, teat canal and mucosal tissue. To prevent damage to the teat by the milking system, follow these desired practices:

 1.      Provide good milking performance. Cows should milk out cleanly and in a short period of time. The milking system should not interfere with milk let-down, which could reduce yield and alter composition. Many years ago, research showed that mastitis in subclinically infected cows became clinical when cows were not milked out.

2.      Prevent contamination of teat and udder tissue. Increased bacteria concentrations that invade and infect the udder cause development of new mastitis infections and higher somatic cell counts. Bacterial invasion of the teat can result from: (a) transfer of infectious organisms from cow to cow on teat-cup liners, (b) cross contamination from one quarter to another on the same cow caused by pressure changes within the milking unit, (c) conditions that damage teat ends and allow organisms to colonize and multiply in damaged tissue, and (d) conditions that create teat-end impacts, such as milk droplet velocity.

3.      Provide adequate collapse of teat-cup liners and massage of teats during the pulsation cycle. The function of pulsation is to massage the teat at regular intervals and maintain blood circulation, preventing teat congestion. Malfunctioning pulsators and/or poor teat-cup liner performance may lead to inadequate milk removal and/or damage to teat ends, causing mastitis and reduced milk production.

4.      Make sure the milking system and equipment is easy to clean, handle and maintain.

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