DUMP BUCKETS are an essential part of mastitis management but are often neglected – left unclean, untested and operated using an old cluster from the previous parlour.

“They have a separate pulsator, again a model older than the parlour, and are rarely tested or have liners changed,” said Brian Pocknee.

He reminded producers that the dump bucket and clusters should be cleaned and disinfected between cows because they were used for problem cows – mastitic, antibiotic-treated or high cell count – as well as fresh calvers. “Ideally they should be backflushed, rinsing out milk, then disinfected,” he said.

Dr Pocknee advised against storing clusters in a bucket of hypochlorite solution between cows or milkings because it aged the liners. Instead, he suggested using peracetic acid which disinfected within 10 seconds without needing to be rinsed off.

Morden parlours with a dedicated dump line save time, particularly in a large herd, as buckets of milk don’t have to be carried around.

However, Dr Pocknee admitted that the extra cost – from £4000 compared with about £300 for a bucket – puts producers off.

Another option is to milk all problem cows last. “As long as the delivery pipe is taken out of the bulk tank, they can be milked through the regular milk line and the milk dumped before the plant is washed.”

This means only one or two dump units would be needed to deal with new mastitis cases that cropped up during the milking routine.