Reduced mastitis, cell counts and less hassle in the parlour are the benefits of a new cluster system that dips teats and then automatically washes itself ready for the next cow.

The ADF automated teat-dipping and liner-flushing system launched at the Dairy Event is suitable for all parlours, says Research Development and Innovations’ James Duke.

It milks cows normally, until the automated cluster remover shuts off the vacuum.

As the vacuum shuts off, the teat dip is injected into the top of the clawpiece so it is dragged gently down the teat, ensuring good coverage, as the teat cup pulls away, said Mr Duke.

“Once the unit is off, the liner is flushed through repeatedly with compressed air and water to take away any milk or iodine residues.

This sanitises it ready for use on the next cow, preventing cross-contamination.”

The benefits are said to start with the speed at which the dip goes on the teats post-milking.

“Dip goes on while the teat is extended and the teat end is open, so you should get a good bacterial kill.”

It is also good to get teat softening agents on the skin quickly, added Mr Duke.

The system is already working on 10 UK farms, three of which have had it for a year.

“These three farms have seen average cell count fall from above 200,000/ml to below 150,000 and they continue to fall each month.

With up to a 1p price difference from some buyers, that would be worth £4,000 for a herd selling 400,000 litres.”

Mr Duke believes that where this sort of benefit is seen, the return on investment could be as little as one year.

It costs about 600/parlour point, plus the cost of the control box to install.

“That’s faster payback than a new parlour.

“On one farm, clinical mastitis is also down 70% from the previous year and drug use is down to 10% of previous use.

And on many farms it has increased parlour throughput as there are fewer cows to treat,” he said.

jessica.buss@rbi.co.uk