We’ve come a long way from the days when cows were milked two or three at a time in a bucket. From the step-up barn through the herringbone, parallel, and parabone to the circular 60 stall barn. All of these barns have some common equipment concerns. According to State Dairy Specialist, Dr. Barry Steevens, Professor of Animal Science at the University of Missouri, all equipment should be checked on a regular basis. The bulk tank should have the milk cooled to 45 degrees at the end of each milking, and continue to cool to 38 degrees. Pulsators should be checked to see that they’re working properly and there are no loose wires. The rubber wear inspection should be coupled with a regular replacement schedule. The washing system also depends on a vacuum, and the washer cups should be inspected to insure there are no leaks during the washing and sanitizing of the equipment. Dr. Jodie Pennington, Dairy Specialist at the University of Arkansas, said mastitis is often caused by improper vacuum or pulsation rate. “The pulsation ratio can also get out of whack,” said Pennington. Acute mastitis can be treated with approved antibiotics. Subclinical mastitis, which causes the high Somatic Cell Count, must be monitored and individual cows tested, treated or culled.
An equipment check by the dealer should be done every six months. “It’s kinda like going to the doctor,” said Steevens. The dealer needs to actually check the vacuum, not just look at the gauge. High, low or irregular vacuum can cause teat irritation and mastitis. Steevens also said, “Producers need to check for stray voltage, which can cause teat injury, decreased milk yield, defecating cows and a frustrated milk hand. Ideally this would be done by an electrician, however, you can check for stray voltage by placing a wrist on the bulk tank and the other hand on a wet floor.
Steevens pointed out that in order to ship milk out of state, we go by the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, which is a basic set of federal guidelines. According to the PMO when the teat is placed in the milking unit, it becomes a food contact surface. “This means if you can’t stick it in your soda pop and still drink it, clean the teat again,” said Steevens.
Planning and early correction of defects can go a long way toward preventing more trouble later for both cows and people.


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