• Effect of teatcup removal settings on milking efficiency and milk quality in a pasture-based automatic milking system

      Silva Boloña, P.; Reinemann, D.J.; Upton, J.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; University of Wisconsin–Madison; Lely (American Dairy Science Association, 2019-09)
      In automatic milking systems (AMS), it is important to maximize the amount of milk harvested per day to increase profitability. One strategy to achieve this goal is to reduce the time it takes to milk each cow. Several studies in conventional milking systems have shown that milking time can be reduced by increasing the milk flow rate at which the teatcup is removed. One study analyzed the effect of increasing the milk flow switch point on milking time in a confinement AMS. No research has been conducted on teatcup removal settings in pasture-based automatic milking systems. Furthermore, not all AMS remove the teatcups based on absolute milk flow rate (kg/min); hence, it is important to study alternative strategies. The aim of this experiment was to measure the effect of 3 novel teatcup removal strategies on box time (time in the AMS), milking time, somatic cell count (SCC), and milk production rate of cows milked in a pasture-based automatic milking system. Each teatcup removal strategy in this study was applied for a period of 1 wk to 1 of 3 groups of cows and then switched to the following group until cows had transitioned through all treatments. The teatcup removal strategies consisted of removing the teatcup when the quarter flow rate fell below 20% of the quarter rolling average milk flow rate (TRS20), when quarter milk flow rate was below 30% of the rolling average milk flow rate (TRS30), and when quarter milk flow rate dropped below 50% of the rolling average milk flow rate (TRS50). A limit prevented teatcup removal if the calculated milk flow rate for teatcup removal was above 0.5 kg/min. This limit was in place for all treatments; however, it only affected the TRS50 treatment. The TRS30 strategy had 9-s shorter milking time and 11-s shorter box time than the TRS20 removal strategy. The TRS50 strategy had 8-s shorter milking time and 9-s shorter box time than the TRS20 teatcup removal strategy. There was no significant difference in milking time or box time between the TRS30 and TRS50 teatcup removal strategies, probably due to the large variability in milk flow rate at teatcup removal. The TRS20 and TRS30 strategies did not differ in SCC or milk production rate. The 0.5 kg/min limit, which affected roughly 25% of milkings in the TRS50 treatment, may have distorted the effect that this setting had on milk time, box time, milk production rate, or SCC. The difference in box time for the TRS30 and TRS50 strategies could allow for more than 3 extra milkings per day