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This NebGuide outlines good milking procedures to follow to assure high quality milk production while minimizing mastitis and other health problems.
Milking, or harvesting the milk crop, is a critical step between planting crops, building facilities, and paying bills on a dairy farm. While highly productive cows and a properly functioning milking system are essential, how the cows are handled and the milking system is used are equally important. Proper milking procedures are necessary to assure a bountiful harvest of high quality milk.
The nature of milk-secreting tissue and the anatomy of the udder make harvesting the milk crop impossible without the cow's cooperation. Stimulating the cow so she releases the "let-down" hormone oxytocin is critical. The effects of oxytocin last about 5 to 7 minutes. Milking should be done within this amount of time to be most effective. Remember--a milking system does not pull or squeeze milk out of the udder. Rather, it simply sets up the conditions (low pressure or vacuum) to allow a difference in pressure between the udder and milking system to force milk out through the teat orifice. In this respect, milking is much like letting air escape from a tire through the valve stem--if there is no difference in pressure between the inside and outside, there is no flow of air (or milk).
There are many details that can be included under the general heading of milking procedures. This NebGuide addresses some of the more routine ones.