The importance of feeding during milking and take off level for milk yield, milking time, milk flow and udder emptying in the Automatic Milking System
Abstract: Feeding during milking has been observed to increase milk yield and milk flow, and decrease milking time. High take off levels compared to low take off levels, measured as g/min at the end of milking has also been reported to increase milk flow. However it is not known how a combination of the two routines influences the milking parameters milk yield, milking time and milk flow. The hypothesis tested was that a combination of feeding during milking and high take off levels increase milk flow and decrease milking time, producing a higher milking efficiency. A crossover study design was used with four treatments, four groups, and four periods. The four treatments were take off level at 800 g/min + feeding during milking, take off 800 g/min no feeding, take off at 200 g/min + feeding and take off 200 g and no feeding. All cows got all four treatments. The experiment lasted for four weeks and each period lasted one week. 32 Swedish Red cows belonging to the same barn participated in the experiment. Parlor data were captured, summarized, and analyzed from 2322 separate milking sessions. There was no statistical difference between treatments for the milk yield. The milking time was significantly lower when the high take off levels were used, milking time was reduced with 51.3 seconds in average per cow per milking. The milk flow was significantly increased with the higher take off level. Feeding during milking did not affect milk yield, milking time or milk flow at the high take off level, while a tendency for higher milk flow and shorter milking time was observed at low take off levels when cows were fed concentrate during milking. There was no effect on udder emptying due to treatment. In conclusion automatic cluster removal at a higher level offers an important potential opportunity to increase parlor efficiency in commercial dairy herds.
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