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Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Pp. 091-094 in Fifth International Dairy Housing Proceedings of the 29-31 January 2003 Conference (Fort Worth, Texas USA)  701P0203.(doi:10.13031/2013.11608)
Authors:   K. Persson Waller, T. Westermark, T. Ekman, and K. Svennersten-Sjaunja
Keywords:   Automatic milking, milk leakage, mastitis, dairy cows

Milk leakage between milkings can increase the risk for udder infections and mastitis in dairy cows. Recently, the number of automatic milking systems (AMS) has increased in Swedish dairy farms. Studies indicate that the udder health of such farms can decline. The reasons behind this are not clear, but there are indications that milk leakage occurs more frequently in such systems. However, no data are available on the actual incidence of milk leakage in AMS, or in other housing systems. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the incidence of milk leakage in different housing systems, and its relationship with various cow and management factors.

Dairy cows in an AMS barn, a loose house barn with cubicles with cows milked in a parlor (LH), a tied-up barn with cows milked in a parlor (TU-P), and a tied-up barn milked on site (TU) were used. All cows were observed every second hour around the clock during 6 days (i.e. in total at 72 occasions). If milk leakage was observed, a number of parameters were recorded. Moreover, individual cow data for all cows were collected from the herd data base.

A significantly higher proportion of milk leakage was observed in the AMS barn compared with in LH and TU-P. Milk leakage was recorded in 24.5%, 5.3%, 10.4% and 18.8% of the cows in the AMS, LH, TU-P and TU barns, respectively. The animals in the TU barn consisted mainly of diseased, or newly calved cows, making them not representative for a normal TU barn. At most observations (85%) of milk leakage, the cows were lying down. The time from previous milking varied between 1-17 hours, 6.5-12 hours and 6-14 hours in the AMS, TU-P and TU systems, respectively. There were no significant relationships between milk leakage and milk production, stage of lactation or registration of heat. Milk leakage occurred more frequently in the rear udder quarters, and tended to increase with increasing udder disease score based on monthly recordings of the milk somatic cell counts.

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