Alan and Jeanette Davison
Milking year-round, they tried as many different liner combinations as they could think of to suit their system but nothing quite worked - cup slip remained an on-going frustration.
Alan and Jeanette Davison farm the property in partnership with their son Christopher, and Alan’s brother John. They say the milking liner challenge lay in the composition of their 1000-cow herd, which is tracking towards a budget of 380,000 kg MS this season.
Most of the herd is Friesian, but the family also milks 120 first cross Friesian-Jersey cows on once-a-day as part of their winter milk operation.
Here’s how it works: 180 cows from 10 March and are milked through the winter. By August, the rest of the herd is calving, so the winter milk cows go onto once-a-day. At the same time the cross breeds are calving and are milked twice a day for a month then added to the once-a-day herd.
Not only are there effectively two different udder shapes going through the rotary each season, there is also quite a bit of variation in teat size within the Friesian majority of the herd. Added to that is the fact that for part of the year the family milks three times a day so the milking plant clocks up a lot of hours.
Alan says VacPlus Square liners from Skellerup caught their eye when they were first launched because they were said to significantly reduce cup slip. A trial run was enough to convince the family to swap over completely and since then VacPlus Squares, changed three times a year, have become integral to efficient milk out.
As well as the immediate benefit of no cup slip, there is less teat end damage too, Alan says.
The VacPlus Squares are replaced close to the recommended 2500 milkings as part of a special focus on milk quality which has seen the family’s SCC counts improve significantly in recent seasons.
"We were always up above 200,000. But then we made some changes. We added a variable speed vacuum pump drive. We upgraded our automatic cup removers. We changed to an iodine teat spray. We introduced the new liners. You can’t put the improvement down to any one thing but our cell counts plummeted. We were at 110,000 this morning (mid November)."
Another practice that helps is manual teat spraying. With split calving and once-a-day milking, there can be cows which don’t milk out properly and having someone eyeing up udders as they come off the platform is really useful.