• Effects of simulated quarter and udder teat cup removal settings on strip milk and milking duration in dairy cows

      Boloña, P. Silvia; Upton, J.; Reinemann, D. J.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; University of Wisconsin-Madison (Elsevier, 2020-02-26)
      The aim of this study was to estimate the amount of milk left in quarters and udders and the milking duration for a variety of teat cup removal strategies. A combination of empirical data and simulated quarter and udder teat cup removal settings were used to make these estimates. Milking duration is an important factor in both automatic and conventional milking systems because it directly influences milking efficiency and hence can affect farm profitability. Strategies investigated in the literature to reduce milking duration include the application of different milk flow rate switch-points (milk flow rate at which the milking unit or teat cup is removed). Applying these milk flow rate switch-points can affect the amount of milk that is not harvested (strip milk). We are not aware of previous research analyzing strip milk yield and milking duration at the quarter level, across a range of quarter and udder milk flow rate switch-points. Quarter-level average milking duration decreased by 2 min, and strip milk increased 1.3 kg as quarter milk flow rate switch-point was increased from 0.2 kg/min to 1.0 kg/min. Using an end of milking criterion of removal of the teat cup at 50% of the quarter's rolling average milk flow rate resulted in a 0.4-min reduction in milking duration and a 0.08-kg increase in strip milk per quarter, compared with removal of the teat cup at 30% of the quarter's rolling average milk flow rate. Udder-level average milking duration decreased by 1.4 min, and strip milk increased by 0.76 kg (0.19 kg per quarter) as udder milk flow rate switch-point was increased from 0.2 kg/min to 1.0 kg/min. A 0.8-min reduction in cow milking duration and a 0.27-kg increase in strip milk at the udder level (0.08 kg per quarter) resulted when changing udder milk flow rate switch-point from 30% of the udder rolling average to 50% of the udder rolling average milk flow rate. This study provides quantitative estimates of the effect of teat cup milk flow rate switch-points on milking duration and strip milk yield.
    • A method for assessing liner performance during the peak milk flow period

      Penry, J. F.; Upton, John; Leonardi, S.; Thompson, P. D.; Reinemann, D. J. (Elsevier, 2017-11-06)
      The objective of this study was to develop a method to quantify the milking conditions under which circulatory impairment of teat tissues occurs during the peak flow period of milking. A secondary objective was to quantify the effect of the same milking conditions on milk flow rate during the peak flow rate period of milking. Additionally, the observed milk flow rate was a necessary input to the calculation of canal area, our quantitative measure of circulatory impairment. A central composite experimental design was used with 5 levels of each of 2 explanatory variables (system vacuum and pulsator ratio), creating 9 treatments including the center point. Ten liners, representing a wide range of liner compression (as indicated by overpressure), were assessed, with treatments applied using a novel quarter-milking device. Eight cows (32 cow-quarters) were used across 10 separate evening milkings, with quarter being the experimental unit. The 9 treatments, with the exception of a repeated center point, were randomly applied to all quarters within each individual milking. Analysis was confined to the peak milk flow period. Milk flow rate (MFR) and teat canal cross sectional area (CA) were normalized by dividing individual MFR, or CA, values by their within-quarter average value across all treatments. A multiple explanatory variable regression model was developed for normalized MFR and normalized CA. The methods presented in this paper provided sufficient precision to estimate the effects of vacuum (both at teat-end and in the liner mouthpiece), pulsation, and liner compression on CA, as an indicator of teat-end congestion, during the peak flow period of milking. Liner compression (as indicated by overpressure), teat-end vacuum, vacuum in the liner mouthpiece, milk-phase time, and their interactions are all important predictors of MFR and teat-end congestion during the peak milk flow period of milking. Increasing teat-end vacuum and milk-phase time increases MFR and reduces CA (indicative of increased teat-end congestion). Increasing vacuum in the liner mouthpiece also acts to reduce CA and MFR. Increasing liner compression reduces the effects of teat-end congestion, resulting in increased MFR and increased CA at high levels of teat-end vacuum and milk-phase time. These results provide a better understanding of the balance between milking speed and milking gentleness.
    • Short communication: Effects of changing teatcup removal and vacuum settings on milking efficiency of an automatic milking system

      Upton, John; Bolona, P. Silva; Reinemann, D. J.; Teagasc Wash Fellowship Programme; University of Wisconsin-Madison; Lely, The Netherlands (Elsevier, 2019-08-22)
      The aim of this experiment was to assess strategies to reduce milking time in a pasture-based automatic milking system (AMS). Milking time is an important factor in automatic milking because any reductions in box time can facilitate more milkings per day and hence higher production levels per AMS. This study evaluated 2 end-of-milking criteria treatments (teatcup removal at 30% and 50% of average milk flowrate at the quarter-level), 2 milking system vacuum treatments (static and dynamic, where the milking system vacuum could change during the peak milk flowrate period), and the interaction of these treatment effects on milking time in a Lely Astronaut A4 AMS (Maassluis, the Netherlands). The experiment was carried out at the research facility at Teagasc Moorepark, Cork, Ireland, and used 77 spring-calved cows, which were managed on a grass-based system. Cows were 179 DIM, with an average parity of 3. No significant differences in milk flowrate, milk yield, box time, milking time, or milking interval were found between treatments in this study on cows milked in an AMS on a pasture-based system. Average and peak milk flowrates of 2.15 kg/min and 3.48 kg/min, respectively, were observed during the experiment. Small increases in maximum milk flowrate were detected (+0.09 kg/min) due to the effect of increasing the system vacuum during the peak milk flow period. These small increases in maximum milk flowrate were not sufficient to deliver a significant reduction in milking time or box time. Furthermore, increasing the removal setting from 30% of the average milk flowrate to 50% of the average milk flowrate was not an effective means of reducing box time, because the resultant increase in removal flowrate of 0.12 kg/min was not enough to deliver practical or statistically significant decreases in milking time or box time. Hence, to make significant reductions in milking time, where cows have an average milk flow of 2 kg/min and yield per milking of 10 kg, end-of-milking criteria above 50% of average milk flowrate at the quarter level would be required.