Milking Procedures

Dr. Clell Bagley, D.V.M.

USU Extension Veterinarian

Preparation of the udder prior to milking is an important process in the harvest of high quality milk. The goal is to achieve a clean, dry udder, that has been adequately stimulated for milk letdown, with dry teats and clean teat ends. A consistent routine at each milking is important. Some have advocated minimal udder preparation, but research shows that lack of udder stimulation actually lengthens milking time, rather than shortening it. Either of the two procedures described below may be used with good assurance of success.

1. Pre-Dip Procedure (water-less udder prep)

(The cow's teats must be clean, free of manure, or the "wash" procedure (#2) should be used first.)

Wear gloves (and wash gloved hands frequently).

Fore-strip each quarter and observe for signs of mastitis.

Wipe dust and loose dirt from udder with hand.

Pre-dip (cover the entire teat surface).

Rub sides of teat with thumb and forefinger (down/back; 2X).

Turn hand slightly and repeat.

Rub across teat end with thumb; repeat for each teat.

Re-dip and allow 15-30 seconds contact time.

Wipe dry with single service towel; paper or cloth, use as many as needed to dry.

Attach milker within 1-1.5 minutes from the start of prep.

Adjust unit as needed to prevent / stop squawks.

Shut off vacuum prior to removal of teat cups.

Post-dip teats.

Wash / rinse gloved hands frequently.

(A spray system can be used for the teat dip, but it must be applied from directly below and the entire teat covered. A droplet of dip should collect on the teat end.)

2. Washing Teats (It is essential to use a low-pressure water hose, containing an adequate level of sanitizer.)

Wear gloves (and wash gloved hands frequently).

Fore-strip each quarter and observe for signs of mastitis.

Wipe dust and loose dirt from udder with hand.

Rub teat while applying a small amount of water from the hose to the teat only.

Repeat for each teat.

Wipe dry with single service towel; paper or cloth, use as many as needed to dry.

Attach milker within 1-1.5 minutes from the start of the prep.

Adjust unit as needed to prevent / stop squawks

Shut off vacuum prior to removal of teat cups.

Post-dip teats.

Wash / rinse gloved hands frequently.

Additional Points to Consider

Attachment of milking unit

* Plan the prep procedures so the milking unit can be applied within 1-1.5 minutes after beginning udder preparation.

* Be sure the teats are dry.

* Minimize air entry during attachment.

* Plug any teat-cups that are not applied to teats.

Adjustment during milking

* Position unit to milk effectively and to prevent lips and squawks.

Removal of milker

* Shut off vacuum to the unit before removing it from the udder.

* Avoid over-milking. It is better to leave a small residue in the udder.

* Don't machine or hand strip.

Automatic take-off use:

* Test the function by hand-stripping 10% of the cows after milking. The take-offs are working okay if < 1 lb. milk per quarter remains.

* Minimize the time of units on teats with low milk flow and high vacuum.

* Consider changing the default for the time of removal from the 0.7 lb./minute flow rate and 13 seconds time delay used by most manufacturers. Change the settings to 1.5-2 lb./minute and a 3 second delay. Use the hand-stripping test both before and after making the change. After the change there should still be less than one pound of milk per quarter by the hand stripping test.

Post-milking

* Dip teats with an approved teat dip immediately following milking. Cover the bottom 2/3 of the teats.

* Clean the teat dip cups frequently.

* When the outside temperature is lower than 10 F, either blot the drop of teat dip from the end of the teat after 30 seconds, before sending the cows outside, or stop teat dipping until the weather warms up. In this case, still blot any residual drop of milk from the teat end, to avoid freezing skin on the teat end.

* Feed the cows so they will go to the feed manger and remain standing, while eating, for 30-60 minutes rather than just lying down immediately. This allows the teat sphincter to contract and close.

Teat Dips

* Use only products approved by FDA (other products are illegal).

* Use products that have proven effective when tested according to the protocol established by the National Mastitis Council. Ask for data.