• 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.