Parlours miss quality mark
Poor use of antibiotic tubes
and faulty parlour
installations were the main
concerns at this years
British mastitis conference.
Jessica buss reports
NEW parlours are failing to meet minimum British Standards, with faults likely to damage teats, milk quality and harm cow welfare.
This was the preliminary finding of a Milk Development Council-funded study* of 20 new parlour installations, reported to the British Mastitis Conference, at the NAC, Stoneleigh, by ADAS milking specialist Ian Ohnstad.
Mr Ohnstad said working vacuum and pulsation settings were vital and had a direct effect on milking efficiency and udder health. But four of the milking plants were working above the vacuum level recommended by the manufacturer and seven parlours had unsatisfactory pulsation characteristics.
These ranged from incorrectly adjusted pulsations rates and ratios and relays not operating, so impairing liner movement, to insufficient vacuum line capacity for the number of units installed. When parlours were revisited six months later two of the vacuum levels were still incorrectly set, added Mr Ohnstad.
Regulator leakage was found to be excessive on two farms inspected, and on one leakage had deteriorated further by the second visit. Air leakage into the vacuum and milk system was above that permitted in 60% of parlours tested and on two farms compromised the vacuum reserves. Many plants had blocked or excessive air bleeds, and rubberware was also damaged or worn on 12 units.
"We expected a high degree of installation compliance but found four major areas of concern. On six farms the vacuum gauge siting meant it was not visible by the operator as required by the standards. One plant had no drain valves fitted, while another did not have them fitted at the lowest point on the line." All plants were direct to line requiring a continuous fall towards the receiver, but one installation had a high point in the centre of the milk line with the milk line mainly supported by string.
On four parlours a full assessment of air flow and vacuum level could not be carried out because test points were not provided. On another plant they were glued shut.
"Producers must question rather than assume a new parlour will work properly. The dealer or installer should test the parlour prior to the first milking, and producers should then ask for evidence of successful tests," said Mr Ohnstad.
*Parlours were tested according to the minimum British Standard at the time of installation.
Ian Ohnstad… Question rather than assume a new parlour will work properly.
A new parlour, but the chances are that it has not been installed correctly.
Of 20 new parlours tested:
• Vacuum incorrectly set on four.
• Pulsators unsatisfactory on seven.
• Two had excessive regulator leakage.
• Damaged or worn rubberware on 12 farms.
• Six vacuum gauges not visible to operator.
• Drain valves not fitted on one parlour and badly sited on another.
• Inadequate test points on four parlours and glued shut on another.