Half of all French farms with automatic cluster removal equipment (ACRs) have at least one cluster with a fault, according to a study conducted using a new testing device developed by Oliver Sauvee of the Institut de l’Elevage.
Mr Sauvee told Farmers Weekly at this week’s SIMA show that the equipment had been developed to serve a need for testing, as no ACRs had previously been tested in French parlours.
“The system checks three parameters. Firstly it measures the initial delay before the ACR starts monitoring milk flow – this should be between 90 and 180 seconds. Then the equipment simulates the end of milking, using either water or salt water.
“Gradually the system reduces the simulated flow by steps of 100g a minute from 900g a minute down to 0g a minute. Every 100g step takes 20 seconds. When the ACR activates removal of the cluster, the equipment takes a measure of the flow and the time taken for the ACR to activate,” he explained.
Ideally ACRs should activate at a flow rate of between 100 and 400g a minute and nearly 80% of individual clusters tested stopped milking at points between these flow rates, said Mr Sauvee.
Where faults are found the system detects how far adrift of an ideal stopping time units are. In 50% of cases units were plus or minus 20 seconds of the perfect cessation time, while 15% were plus or minus 30 seconds.
Having used testing equipment on 1000 clusters, Mr Sauvee is confident it offers an accurate and reliable method of testing removal accuracy. “In most cases making simple changes to ACR operation will correct the problems and avoid situations where cows are milked insufficiently, over-milked or suffer teat end damage or other udder health issues.”
For more from SIMA see our Taking Stock blog at www.fwi.co.uk/takingstock