Milk Quality in the milking herd

Maintaining Milk Quality

At this time of the year mating takes up your attention and once AB is finished it's nice to finally be able to have a breather.

With all this going on, it's easy to understand if milk quality was not at the forefront of your mind. Even small increases in the number of clinical cases or bulk milk somatic cell count (BMSCC) can cost you however and issues occurring now can compound as we move through the season.

At the current pay-out (according to the SmartSamm gap calculator) every case of mastitis will cost you $63 on average, in treatments and lost milk. Every 50,000 cells/ml increase in average BMSCC for the season costs you $3300 in lost milk production.

It is worth taking 10 minutes to ask yourself and/or chat with your team to make sure you are on track with milk quality. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I getting too many clinical cases of mastitis? Aim for less than 1% of the herd per month, in the months outside of calving, on average.
  • Are too many cows in the herd over 150,000 cell/ml on herd test? Aim for less than 15% of heifers and less than 25% of the whole herd to be over 150,000 cell/ml.
  • Is our milking technique and teat spraying up to scratch? Work out if you are using 20ml per cow per milking for manual sprayers or 30ml per cow per milking for automatic sprayers. Make sure you aren't making up too much teat spray mixture at a time. Three days is the maximum recommended time for mixed up spray. Check that cows aren't being over-milked. Cups should not be on for more than one minute once the milk stops flowing. Check that cups are being put on with minimal air sucking and are being removed by cutting the vacuum and allowing the cups to slip free of the teats.

As always if you're having trouble maintaining milk quality give your friendly veterinarian a call.