Standard Operating Procedure for the Milking Facility

Standard Operating Procedure for the Milking Facility
Dec 02, 2021

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The employee performing the milking on your farm is a very important part of your team. The milkers are in charge of harvesting the product for sale. This product must clean and wholesome. A standard operating procedure (SOP) needs to be in place on all dairies, large or small, to ensure that milking is accomplished correctly and consistently.

Everyone in the facility needs to be doing the same routine. This includes the youth in the facility as well as the adults. Many farms are utilizing family labor, and family members who milk should follow the same procedures as non-family members. Some of the procedures listed below may seem very simple, but they need to be followed by everyone from the first step until the last.

Step #1

The people moving the cows play a very important role in milking. This cow movement includes collecting cows from their pens, moving cows into the holding area, and moving cows into the parlor. Cows that have a bad experience from rough handling 30 minutes prior to milking are stressed, causing a release of adrenaline which negatively impacts milk let-down. Adrenaline inhibits the release of oxytocin from the pituitary gland necessary for proper milk let down. 

Step #2

Prepping the udder:

Whether you strip or dip first is irrelevant and is often just a personal preference on the farm. However, the same procedure must be completed by ALL the same way at each milking.  Either stripping or dipping first is an approved first step to take. This contact will initiate oxytocin release and start the LAG TIME. This is the time from milk let down until the unit is attached.  An ideal lag time is between 60-90 seconds, with a minimum of 90 seconds for 3x herds. When stripping, strip 4-5 squirts from each teat. This technique will not only allow you to observe for mastitis but will also rid the udder of the highest somatic cell count milk. The high somatic cell count milk is mostly contained in the teat cistern. Fore-stripping the teats should take approximately 10 seconds. When applying teat dip, you need to cover ¾ of the teat for adequate coverage.  This is with a dipper/foamer or spray wand. If using a sprayer prior to stripping your lag time does not start until the stripping.

Step #3

Leave dip on the teat for the recommended amount of time on the label of your dip container. This will enable the dip to neutralize/kill any bacteria on the outside of the teat.

Step #4

When removing the pre-dip, wipe the teat with a twisting motion. Be sure to take time to wipe the end of the teat. Attach the unit after drying the teat. This is very important as the teat will be the cleanest at this time.

Step #5

After the cow has finished milking, apply post dip once the milking unit is removed. This dip is applied to the teat to help control the bacteria load on the teat. The sphincter muscle on the teat end will be open for 30-minutes after milking. The post-dip will help to prevent bacteria from entering the teat canal. When applying teat dip, you need to cover ¾ of the teat for adequate coverage.  Ensure complete coverage, not just one side of the teat. Using a dip cup to apply teat dips can help to ensure complete coverage.

It is critical that everyone in the milking facility follows the same steps in the SOP. Cows are used to a routine and altering that routine can cause let-down and milking disruptions. However, everyone in your facility needs to be doing the procedures the same way.

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