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The risk of unsuitable milking equipment 

Boehringer Ingelheim’s Milk Quality Academy met for the first time in late 2015 with the objective of gathering together practitioners, academics and experts to discuss and debate current and future issues affecting milk production throughout Europe.  

Ali Haggerty of the Stewartry Vet Centre in Castle Douglas attended the meeting and reports back on one of the talks. 

She says: “Increasing herd size means farmers need to be more aware of the need to change cluster liners more frequently, according to speakers Frederike Reinecke and Ian Ohnstad.  Mr Ohnstad told the meeting that liners should be changed every 2500 milkings.  In larger herds, that figure can come around quickly, possibly meaning that liners need to be changed every two weeks. Additionally, he said it was vital to continually check the efficiency and effectiveness of liner disinfection to limit cow to cow transmission of pathogens.  

“The speakers went on to discuss teat scoring as a useful method of assessing the effectiveness of both milking routine and the milking machine.  In addition to regular scoring, additional scores can be carried out before and after major changes to the milking machine or the milking routine, Mr Ohnstad told the meeting. 

“He said there were a number of recommendations to follow when examining teats. Firstly, teat condition should always be assessed immediately after the cluster is removed. This means within 30 seconds and before the disinfectant is applied.  Teats should also be observed and recorded in a regular pattern. It is often useful to use a headtorch and dictaphone to ensure hands are kept free for teat examination. Initially, teats should be viewed without handling and any teat ends with milk residue or debris on the orifice should be wiped with a paper towel to improve the view of the orifice.  

“To provide an adequate sample size score the teats of at least 80 cows or 20% of the herd, he said.  It is important to score a representative sample of cows from all feed and management groups, taking account of stage of lactation and parity. 

“All the delegates at the meeting were pleased to be reminded of some of the basics around liners and teat health. After the very informative lecture, Mr Ohnstad led a practical session. His advice was very much relevant to day-to-day life as a farm vet.”

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