Maximising udder health for improved herd performance through dynamic testing
Dynamic testing of the milking plant is a form of time and motion study, where all elements of the milking process (from the milking plant, to the milking routine and any effect on the cow’s teats) is considered. The difference between dynamic testing and normal maintenance undertaken by manufacturers/farmers is that it tests the parlour when it is under stress of being used, whereas the others do not. Dynamic testing can also incorporate both mechanical issues and husbandry issues which all contribute to improving udder health.
Four dairy farmers in Carmarthenshire with an average herd size of 260 took part in this project to find out if dynamic testing could improve udder health in terms of reducing somatic cell counts, clinical mastitis and bactoscan levels.
The difference between dynamic testing and normal maintenance undertaken by manufacturers/farmers is that it tests the parlour when it is under stress, whereas the others do not. It also incorporates both mechanical issues and husbandry issues and all of these combined contribute to improving udder health.
The project plan
Dynamic testing was carried out by the farm’s vet every two months on each farm for one year, alongside the milk samples and teat scoring. The results from the testing were analysed and then a variety of interventions were implemented on farm to correct any issues depending on what was found. The diagram below includes a few examples of commonly encountered findings from dynamic testing and examples of possible solutions.
- Overmilking was found to be one of the primary mechanisms of damage to the teat end, which in turn is one of the many defence barriers of the udder to mammary infection.
- After being identified, changes were able to be made on the farms to rectify this, and overmilking reduced on average across all four farms by 21 per cent.
- Following dynamic testing the average bulk tank somatic cell counts (BTSCC) reduced by 3.86 x1,000/ml.
- Milk parlour dynamic testing can lead to change in the milking machine and in the milking routine, which in turn results to positive change around udder health performance.