Advance Milking: a logical approach to improving udder health, milk quality and milking efficiency

Advance Milking is a consultancy business focussed on all aspects of milking performance. Combining veterinary science with expertise in milking machine technology allows a comprehensive approach, not only to cow health and food safety, but also to milking efficiency and the maximisation of output. Tom Greenham, one of the two founding directors of Advance Milking, describes the background to the company.

Milk harvesting

Dr. Tom Greenham delivering a lecture on innovations in mastitis prevention to Canadian veterinary surgeons.

The harvesting of milk from cows has occurred for millennia, dating back to the domestication of the aurochs at around 7,000 years B.C. As such, the issues that our modern dairy industry now face are not new. For instance, stimulating milk let-down has been a recognised challenge for several centuries, with records from the late 1700s of pastoralists blowing into the reproductive tract of the cow to stimulate what is now referred to as the Ferguson reflex. Nor are the challenges of milk harvesting isolated to the regions of the world with larger scale dairy industries. The dairy industry is both ancient and global, being an integral part of our human civilisations.
So, if humans from around the world have milked cows for nine millennia, we might assume that we know all that there is to know about the optimal methods of harvesting milk. However, we are still faced with the same challenges that have been reported for generations. Cows develop udder infections. Milk contains substances that we do not want. The process of milking takes too long. But why do we still have these problems when we have such a vast experience of the milk harvest?
In part, the answer lies in the evolution of the dairy industry. Cows have changed, with genotype progressing with increasing rapidity. Over the same period, farming methods have changed with many novel technological developments. So, as the industry advances, our understanding must also evolve, with research being vital to allow the adaptation to new challenges.

An equally significant obstruction to conquering these age-old challenges to the dairy industry comes from an ironic flaw in human nature. With the most advanced language of any species of animal, humans are masters of communication. The advent of social media has made knowledge transfer easier than at any time in our history. Yet lack of communication is still a fundamental limiting factor to the improvement of udder health, milk quality and milking efficiency. It has been stated that the average time taken for a research publication to achieve widespread impact in the relevant field is seventeen years (Grant et al, 2003).
Lack of communication is also found