Average Milking

Some of the things we are taught as youth stick, unfortunately for my high school modern literature teacher, some things don’t. One of the things that stick with me is the thought that the average shot never hits the duck. Two feet in front and two feet behind on average hits the duck, but anyone who has ever fired a shot at anything will tell you, the hunted lives for another day in that instance.

On average, a dairy cow carries 20% of its milk in the cisternal portion of the udder at a point 12 hours from the last milking event. Why does that matter? It matters because the cisternal portion of the milk in the udder is more or less available to be harvested with little or no stimulation. Unfortunately in this instance a large number of cows today aren’t milked on a 12 hour interval. When we shorten the interval from 12 to 8 hours a lower percentage is available, when we lower production, as when the cow nears the end of lactation, the amount in pounds available is a moving target. [Read more…]

Parlor tools

American Comedian Mitch Hedberg once said “This shirt is dry clean only. Which means…it’s dirty.” It would appear that Mitch was one of us who determined cleaning, especially when it took special measures, wasn’t a high priority.

I can’t help but think of this thought process when I visit farms. Cleaning cow’s teats is hard work.  Cleaning dirty cows teats is even harder.  From the beginning of discussing milk quality, people have spoken about milking clean dry teats.  People have tried numerous tools to produce different results but in the end cleaning teats, especially ones brought to the parlor dirty, is hard work. [Read more…]

Milking with a Robot

The first place to start on any equipment purchase decision is what you would like the equipment to do. In the purchase decision of milking equipment that decision has often been decided by how many cows it can milk on a daily basis. With the advent of robotic milking equipment the criteria of how many cows it can milk is taking on an entirely new meaning. Obviously robots have an ability to harvest milk, from cows, with very little human interaction. The question now has become how much of the human interaction can be replaced and how many cows can then be milked per human operator.

Robots are simply a means of mechanical advantage, just like a longer lever helped early pioneers remove a stump many times their weight, a robot allows one person the ability to milk many more cows with no more and sometimes even less labor than is currently being used. [Read more…]

Turning Pro

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, expressed his view that it takes 10,000 hrs. of focused practice to become a professional. 10,000 hrs. is a long time, 1,000 hrs. of focused practice per year then requires 10 years to complete the course.

This requirement came to mind this week visiting dairies. How many dairy operators have had 10,000 hrs. of “practice?” I believe many. The real question is not the hours but the focus; the difficult part of any job is the focus, staying on task until completion can be almost impossible. Focus then becomes the limiting factor, the hours, not so much. [Read more…]

Created Equal

teat end vacuum

George Will is credited with saying, “Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.”

I get asked all the time about what vacuum should a liner be set up at. Quoting a number is rife with issues because like George Will so aptly said, all things aren’t created equal. When dealing with liners and vacuum the real data one is looking for is teat end vacuum. Although we set system vacuum to deliver a teat end vacuum, quoting a system vacuum to deliver a teat end vacuum just won’t get the dairy the correct answer. [Read more…]