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Open Access Research

Effect of liner design, pulsator setting, and vacuum level on bovine teat tissue changes and milking characteristics as measured by ultrasonography

David E Gleeson1*, Edmond J O'Callaghan1 and Myles V Rath2

Author Affiliations

1 Teagasc, Moorepark Research Centre, Fermoy, Co Cork, Ireland

2 Faculty of Agriculture, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

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Irish Veterinary Journal 2004, 57:289-296  doi:10.1186/2046-0481-57-5-289

Published: 1 May 2004

Abstract

Friesian-type dairy cows were milked with different machine settings to determine the effect of these settings on teat tissue reaction and on milking characteristics. Three teat-cup liner designs were used with varying upper barrel dimensions (wide-bore WB = 31.6 mm; narrow-bore NB = 21.0 mm; narrow-bore NB1 = 25.0 mm). These liners were tested with alternate and simultaneous pulsation patterns, pulsator ratios (60:40 and 67:33) and three system vacuum levels (40, 44 and 50 kPa). Teat tissue was measured using ultrasonography, before milking and directly after milking. The measurements recorded were teat canal length (TCL), teat diameter (TD), cistern diameter (CD) and teat wall thickness (TWT).

Teat tissue changes were similar with a system vacuum level of either 50 kPa (mid-level) or 40 kPa (low-level). Widening the liner upper barrel bore dimension from 21.0 mm (P < 0.01) or 25.0 mm (P < 0.001) to 31.6 mm increased the magnitude of changes in TD and TWT after machine milking. Milk yield per cow was significantly (P < 0.05) higher and cluster-on time was reduced (P < 0.01) with the WB cluster as compared to the NB1 cluster. Minimum changes in teat tissue parameters were achieved with system vacuum level of 40 kPa and 50 kPa using NB and WB clusters, respectively. Similar changes in teat tissue and milk yield per cow were observed with alternate and simultaneous pulsation patterns. Widening pulsator ratio from 60:40 to 67:33 did not have negative effects on changes in teat tissue and had a positive effect on milk yield and milking time. Milk liner design had a bigger effect on teat tissue changes and milking characteristics than pulsation settings.

Keywords:
Cattle; Machine milking; Teat tissue; Pulsation; Milk liner; Ultrasonography