A crossover study design was used in five commercial dairy herds to study the effect of altering the switch point settings for automatic cluster remover units on the average duration of unit attachment, milk flow, and milk yield. Automatic cluster remover switch point settings were alternated, for 1-wk periods, between 0.50 and 0.64 kg/min (1.1 and 1.4 lb/min) in one herd and between 0.73 and 0.82 kg/min (1.6 and 1.8 lb/min) in the four remaining herds. Parlor data were captured at 329 separate milking sessions (range 39 to 92 per herd), representing 239,393 individual cow milkings. While increasing the automatic cluster remover switch point setting was not associated with a change in average milking duration in one herd, it had the effect of significantly reducing the average milking duration by between 10.2 and 15.6 s per cow in the remaining four herds. Milk flow was significantly increased at higher switch point settings for all five herds. Higher automatic cluster remover switch point settings did not have a negative effect on milk yield in any of the herds studied and, in fact, were associated with increased milk yield in two of the five herds. Decreasing milking duration while either maintaining or increasing the volume of milk harvested should ultimately lead to improved milking efficiency and parlor performance. Modifying systems to increase automatic cluster remover switch point settings offers an important potential opportunity to increase parlor efficiency in commercial dairy herds.
- Automatic cluster remover unit
- Milk flow
- Milk yield
- Milking duration