Production of quality milk
By Dr Rao Zahid Abbas & Dr Zafar Iqbal
production of quality milk is an important part of any dairy
It increases farmer's
profitability and has many benefits. Research has found the
importance of lowering the somatic cell count (SCC) in a
Each time the SCC is cut
into half, the average production increases by 0.6 kg milk
per cow per day.
Thus, lowering a herdís
SCC from 400,000 to 100,000, increases milk production of
the herd by 1.3 kg per cow per day.
Dairy industry's demand
for quality milk has made it easier to get dairy farmers
Most dairy plants are
now offering cash premiums for lower SCC milk. The farmers
not only get more milk, but a higher price as well for
better quality milk.
Quality milk can be obtained approached by looking at the
"Mastitis Triangle." It includes looking at the total
picture such as cows and their environment, the man and his
milking procedures, and the milking equipment and its
function. This can help improve milk quality.
To solve a problem, one must find the cause behind it.. If
one doesn't look at the total triangle and something is
overlooked the problem cannot be solved completely.
When investigating a mastitis
situation, one should be sure to look at more than the SCC.
A check of the amount of clinical mastitis in the herd, the
milk out times, and production of the herd is a must. Many
herds have artificially low SCC because the bad cows are not
going into the tank.
Milking procedures: One of the most challenging parts of
quality milk production is fine tuning of the dairy farmersí
milking procedures. Milking procedures are usually
responsible for mastitis in the herd.
A milk time evaluation is
essential to help the dairy farmers to fine tune milking
practices. Many farmers are taking all necessary steps, but
not in proper order to get the maximum benefit. Once the
farmer implements proper milking habits, there is a
significant improvement in milk quality.
Milking habits: These practices include getting the teat
cleaned, dried, and properly stimulated before milking. The
routine that has been found to be the most effective in
producing quality milk is as follows.
The first step is to fore-strip each teat three times.
Fore-stripping is critical to the production of quality milk
and fast milking times. Recent research shows that stripping
the teats can yield five to seven per cent more milk. Not
only there is an increase in milk yield, but also faster
The dairy farmers are also
likely to identify abnormal milk. Fore-stripping sends the
strongest signal to cow's brain to let down her milk. Proper
stimulation really pays.
After fore-stripping, proper sanitisation of the teat
surface is a must. This can be done by washing the teats
with water by an udder wash or pre-dipping. It has been
found that pre-dipping is better than any other approach.
Water is the biggest enemy of farmer. Bacteria cannot walk,
but it can swim. Whenever water is used, there is a definite
chance for increased environmental mastitis.
Pre-dipping is an effective step in mastitis control. Dairy
farmer must always select an approved product to pre-dip
with. In order to get the biggest impact from pre-dipping,
two things must take care of. The pre-dip must cover 75 pr
cent of the teat surface and it must stay on the teat for a
minimum of 20 to 30 seconds.
To get full benefit from
pre-dipping, these two rules have to be followed. The new
step which is strongly supported is the use of milking
Research has shown
significant decrease in bacteria numbers when gloves are
worn. By wearing gloves, the milking practices are just fine
tuned with chances of producing quality milk increased.
Drying the teats with
individual paper or cloth towels is the most
important step. Drying does more to lower SCC and
reduce clinical mastitis than the other steps.
The teat and teat end must be
wiped clean and dry. The drying towel removes most bacteria
from the teat. Once the teat has been dried, it should not
be touched with hands again.
Timing is very important to milking speed and milk yield.
Ideally, the units should be attached to the teats 45 to 90
seconds after stripping. If the timing is delayed, there
would be longer milking times and less milk yield.
Many farms have inadequate
timing which creates over milking before milk let down.
Often times parlour farms set their automation on manual
until let down occur. This is not acceptable and the
solution is better timing. In parlours, usually farmers work
in groups of three or four cows. This helps optimise timing
and maximise output.
The unit must be attached to the teat with as little air
admission as possible. Letting in too much air is very
irritating for the teats and will increase the level of
Once the unit is attached, a
few seconds should be taken to properly align the unit on
each cow so that the cow is milked rapidly and completely
with minimum liner slip. Good unit alignment is important in
both stanchion barns and parlours.
Once the unit is removed by shutting off the vacuum, the
teats must be immediately dipped with teat dip. Teat dipping
is still one of the most important steps. The key is that
the farmer is using a quality teat dip with research data
showing efficacy. Coverage is the most important part of
A minimum of 75 per cent of
the teat must be covered with dip. The primary reason for
teat dipping is to replace milk film with a layer of
germicide after milking.
If the milk film is not
removed, the left food on the teats will grow more bacteria.
It is also important to start each milking with a clean teat
dipper containing fresh dip. The teats must be adequately
covered with dip to prevent mastitis.
Environment: Looking at the cow and the environment around
is most often forgotten. The environment is probably second
in importance only to milking procedures.
It is needed to look at where
the cow is being milked, where she is housed, and how she
gets back and forth between these areas. Many mastitis
problems come from the environment. Keeping the cows clean,
dry, and comfortable 24 hours a day is a key factor in
Housing must be kept clean and dry 24 hours. The lanes to
and from the pastures or dry lots must be free of mud holes
which cause many coliform problems. Managing coliform
problems will stop other problems.
Ventilation is critical.
Winter is not a problem for dairy farmers, rather
controlling environment during the heat of summer is
Keeping cows udders clean can really reduce the level of
clinical mastitis and improve milk quality. Removing udder
hair and trimming or docking tails help to keep udders clean
and thus lead to improved milk quality.
Docking tails keeps the cows and facilities clean. Clipping
udders is probably one of the most important steps in
producing quality milk. It is a forgotten step in mastitis
The problem is that no one
likes clipping udders. It takes a great deal of time and the
cows usually object to the procedure. The farmers now flame
the udders three to four times a year rather than not doing
it at all.
Milking equipment: Milking equipment is the most used and
most abused equipment on any dairy farm. Veterinarians must
at least understand the basic functioning of milking
The milk system must be looked at from not only a mastitis
stand point, but also a performance stand point. Milking
equipment has more effect on production than it does on
A very large percentage of
milking equipment used does have a negative effect on
production. Many herds see dramatic increases in production
when milking systems are upgraded as well as a decrease in
milking time. It is found that the longer it takes to milk a
cow, the less milk is obtained.
The shorter the machine time,
the less chance for infection too.
The milking system needs to be properly evaluated on a
regular basis. The only correct way to test a milking
machine is at milking time so the cows can be tested under
This dynamic testing allows
you to find problems that cannot be discovered any other
way. Having a good independent person test, the milking
equipment is often best. The milking machine is the most
important machine on the farm and should be kept well
maintained and fine tuned.
Bulk tank culturing is an excellent way to monitor a herd on
a routine basis.
Bulk tank culturing gives a
way to look at a bacterial survey of the whole herd quickly
and economically and is an important part of a total farm
visit. This often provides convincing support for the
observations and recommendations made.
Courtesy: Dawn News
Getting involved in quality milk production is easy. All
that is needed is a commitment to get involved. An attitude
for quality is an attitude for profit.