ABSTRACT: Milk leakage (ML), or milk observed dripping or flowing from one or more teats between milkings, has been associated with increased risk of udder infections and mastitis in dairy cows. Preliminary observations indicate that ML might occur more often in automatic milking systems (AMS) than in conventional milking systems (CMS), but comparative data on the incidence of ML in AMS or in CMS are not available. Therefore, the occurrence of ML at various observation periods was studied in one AMS with cows housed in a free-stall barn in comparison to CMS with cows housed either in a free-stall barn or a tie-stall barn and milked at regular intervals in a herringbone milking parlor. Relationships between ML and other cow and management factors were also examined. In each of 2 yr, all cows (n = 230 total; 46 cows present both years) were observed at 2-h intervals during six 24-h periods. At least one ML occurred in 39.0 (AMS) vs. 11.2% (CMS) of individual cows and in 16.2 (AMS) vs. 2.9% (CMS) of 24-h cow days studied. Milk leakage was not related to milk production, parity, stage of lactation, or estrous status. However, in the AMS, 62% of primiparous and 28% of multiparous cows leaked milk at least once. Milk leakage occurred more often in rear than in forequarters. Cows were usually lying down when ML was observed, but intervals from previous milking varied, especially in AMS. In AMS, about one-fifth of the ML observations occurred < or = 4 h after milking, and half of those were associated with disturbances at the previous milking. Milk flow rate was higher in quarters leaking milk than in other quarters. Strategies to reduce milk leakage in AMS may be important to minimize potential risks of udder disease.
Journal of Dairy Science 12/2003; 86(11):3488-97. · 2.56 Impact Factor