It is important dairy farmers look at whether their parlour is working correctly.
But Bill May, vet and director at Lambert Leonard and May Farm Vets, Cheshire, says all too often it is easy to do the bare minimum in terms of testing and maintenance.
“It may seem obvious, but make sure you have someone qualified to test the equipment,” he says.
“Having a technician with the Parlour Safe industry accreditation will give you confidence that the critical elements of the equipment are being tested to the appropriate standards.”
Mr May also says a milking time assessment of teat condition can often give a lot of important information about milking practices and help diagnose problems.
“Teat condition or teat lesions, either induced or spread by milking machines, are common and are signs of incorrect milking practices or milking machine function,” he adds.
“Lesions can also be infectious. The wider consequences of these teat lesions are obviously mastitis and the pain and discomfort associated with that, but also increased antibiotic use, cost, loss of milk, higher cull rates and lower staff motivation, due to additional work related to managing sick cows.
“The good news is that a lot can easily be done to correct these issues.
“Focus on prevention instead of treatment – what you can do to improve teat condition and mastitis incidence on your farm.
“The biggest factor to consider is staff – are they trained, motivated and capable? Do they provide a calm milking environment?
“Staff are a huge asset if working effectively. In terms of parlour function, they are the people who are familiar with the workings and noises, so can spot any changes quickly.
“Depending on your parlour design and milking time practices, over-milking can be common and can significantly damage teats.
“This commonly occurs at the start of the milking, rather than at the end due to a lack of adequate teat preparation.
“Aim for 60-90 second prep-lag time for optimal milk let down.”