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A longitudinal prospective cohort study investigating the association of premilking stimulation and teat-end shape on milking characteristics and teat tissue condition in dairy cows

Wieland, Matthias, Melvin, Jaclyn M., Nydam, Daryl V., Virkler, Paul D.
BMC veterinary research 2019 v.15 no.1 pp. 58
Holstein, cohort studies, dairy cows, free stalls, harvesting, milk, milk yield, milking, statistical models, total mixed rations, udders
BACKGROUND: Premilking udder preparation is essential for harvesting high-quality milk as gently, completely, and quickly as possible. The associations between characteristics such as teat-end shape and premilking stimulation on milking characteristics and machine milking-induced changes to the teat tissue condition have not been rigorously investigated. The primary objective was to investigate the interactive effects of manual premilking stimulation (i.e., preparation lag time) and teat-end shape on total milk yield, two-minute milk yield, milking unit-on time, and time in low milk flow rate. Our secondary objective was to study the association of manual premilking stimulation and changes to the teat tissue condition after machine milking (i.e., short-term changes). In a longitudinal prospective cohort study, 384 milking observations from 129 cows were analysed. Holstein cows were housed in sand-bedded free-stall pens, fed a total mixed ration, and milked 3 times a day. Cows were classified by teat-end shape into 1 of 3 categories: pointed, flat, or round. Individual cow milking characteristics were recorded with electronic on-farm milk meters. The duration of manual stimulation, preparation lag time, and presence of short-term changes were documented for each milking observation. General linear mixed models were used to study the interactive effects of preparation lag time and teat-end shape on milking characteristics. RESULTS: There was an interaction between preparation lag time and teat-end shape for two-minute milk yield and time in low milk flow rate. The preparation lag time effect was modified by teat-end shape, while no interaction was observed for total milk yield or milking unit-on time. A generalized linear mixed model revealed that preparation lag time was associated with short-term changes in teat tissue condition, where the odds of short-term changes decreased as preparation lag time increased. CONCLUSIONS: In summary, cows with different teat-end shapes may require different premilking stimulation regimens. Increasing preparation lag time benefits teat tissue condition during machine milking. Further research is warranted to optimize individual premilking stimulation in dairy cows.