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Why Should I Forestrip on My Farm?

Posted: June 17, 2011

Forestripping should be applied to all milking routines and is a fundamental practice that can help to greatly increase milk quality.

The main goal of today’s dairy producer is to produce high quality milk in the most efficient way possible. Producers of high quality milk know that it is important to have a consistent method for milking preparation and unit attachment. The objective of milking management is to ensure that units are applied to visibly clean, well stimulated teats, milk is rapidly and efficiently harvested and milking units are removed when milking is completed.

A number of milking routines are used on dairy farms but no single milking practice will independently result in improved milk quality in the face of overwhelming exposure to mastitis pathogens. The secret of producing high quality milk is to consistently use a well defined milking technique by ALL on the farm that helps to reduce pathogen exposure. Forestripping should be applied to all milking routines and is a fundamental practice that can help to greatly increase milk quality.

The examination of milk before unit attachment is necessary to ensure abnormal milk is not introduced to the bulk tank and also to identify clinical cases of mastitis at an early stage.  Forestripping is adequately performed when 2-3 streams of milk are expressed in a vigorous manor.  It is best to forestrip before the teat end has been disinfected to reduce the risk of recontamination of the teat end. The only thing that should touch a clean dry teat is the inside of a milking unit. One important factor when forestripping is the use of a strip cup.  The strip cup is important to help reduce the chance of spreading contagious mastitis.  The use of latex gloves by all milking staff is also recommended to reduce the potential spread of mastitis pathogens by contaminated hands. 

Implementation of standard milking practices requires frequent training of all employees. Having proper training can be linked to increased milking speed and decrease of clinical mastitis.  Successful milking routines are dependent on the ability to clearly communicate practices and to motivate milking personnel to apply them consistently. The consistent implementation of standardized milking practices such as forestripping, the use of single towels to dry teats and well defined milking routines are essential to producing high quality milk.

If you would like to learn more about “Best Milking Practices”, look at the upcoming Penn State Extension Dairy Program Guide or our website for a full schedule of upcoming workshops.

- By Amber Yutzy, Penn State Extension educator