Unlocking the Hidden Value in Your Milk Parlor

Data Is The Key

The dairy parlor is simultaneously a big source of potential profit (or potential loss) for your dairy farm so it makes sense to focus significant attention on the milk parlor when looking for ways to boost your farm’s profitability. Fortunately, digital transformation across the farming industry means that dairy farmers today have access to a range of technological tools designed to make it easier for them to run a more efficient farm.

By using milk monitoring tools, you can collect vast amounts of milking data and store it for later analysis. The best parlor solutions provide an accurate snapshot of what is going on day to day in the milking parlour down to the individual cow level, giving you the information you need to evaluate your milking protocols and plan for a more efficient future. The right milk monitoring system should also collect data that can assist you in herd and fertility planning, health management, feed selection and more. 

Your milking parlor is an expensive enterprise and one that could either turn a significant profit or a significant loss for your farm. Don’t ignore the hidden value in your milk parlor – adopt the right tools and ensure you are in a position to unleash the maximum possible profit from your milking parlor.

Benefits Of Measuring Milk Production

Using a dedicated tool to collect metrics about milk flow and quality can reveal valuable insights that will help you devise the optimal milking protocol and improve your farm’s bottom line. Afimilk’s MPC milk meter, for example, collects detailed minute-by-minute data about milk machine cluster attachment, flow rate, the milking curve, and milking times. This data transfers seamlessly to the central Afifarm system where you can interpret it using the bundled data analysis tools and a user-friendly dashboard.

There are many advantages to using such a system:

Evaluate Your Milking Protocol

A farm with many animals uses “milkers” who, in most cases, are trained to follow a set protocol. The protocol defines rules relating to many aspects of milking including how long to keep the machine attached, what to do if a cow kicks off the machine in mid-session or how to respond when the milk doesn’t flow as expected.

When milk flow problems occur, you need to be able to determine whether the issues arise from milker activity, problems with the settings of the milking machine, or health or behavioral issues with specific cows. Questions like this can be readily answered by looking at the MPC data. When a specific issue occurs repeatedly across the entire herd – for instance milking bimodality – it is a clear sign that the problem relates to the miking protocol rather than with a specific cow or milker.

A poor milking protocol not only leads to lower than expected yield but it can also cause a host of problems including an excess of mastitis cases, poor udder health and infections.Identifying and remediating issues milking protocol issues can prevent the significant revenue loss that is often the result of poor practice.

Automate Best Practices

Once the right protocol has been determined, the milking system can be automated to follow protocol with minimal human intervention, saving time and improving efficiency. For example, you can program at what point the milk machine should detach based on flow volume. You can also determine maximum and minimum milking times and how quickly the machine detaches at the end of milking. These factors have a direct influence on udder health because cows that are attached to the milking machine for too long may suffer from damages that can lead to  udder infections , bacterial infections, and more frequent bouts of mastitis. 

All these settings can be manually overridden if need be but, in the absence of any unforeseen circumstances, presetting the milking protocol can lead to a more efficient milking parlor, not to mention calmer cows with healthier udders.

Detect Diseases Early

When a cow is sick or suffering from any kind of discomfort, one of the first signs is a change in milk volume and quality. By collecting and storing milking data at the individual cow level farmers will be able to quickly spot anomalous events that could reveal a cow has developed a health problem. Depending on the observed changes, they may also be able to determine the specific disease the cow is suffering from. For example, ration of fat to protein in the milk can be used to effectively detect ketosis, nutritional issues, and digestion-related health problems. Changes in milk conductivity or lactose content can be used to detect mastitis. You can read about this in more detail here.

Early detection of illness has a huge impact on farm profits because early treatment can be given to prevent more pervasive long-term health problems from arising.

Maintain A Calm Milking Environment

Many milk monitoring tools collect data about kick-offs- which means the milking unit was removed from the cow to early (usually by the animal), slow milk let-down, and how many times the machine had to be reattached during a milking session. These metrics provide important insights into the comfort levels of the cows during milking. Widespread restless behavior and repeated kickoffs in a group can indicate a problem with the milking protocol, the cows, or the milker. Once you know there is an issue, you can dig deeper into the possible causes and gain insights that can help you set the atmosphere most conducive to optimal flow in the parlor.

Improve Milking Efficiency

By monitoring milking time, flow rate, and the milk let-down response it is possible to evaluate how well an animal was prepared for milking and make the tweaks necessary to ensure that both let-down and flow occur optimally. 

Coach And Monitor The Parlor Team

Once you have used your data to devise an ideal milking protocol, you can use the MPC milking module to train milkers and staff, giving them tangible metrics to help them evaluate and improve their milking practices as well as deal with problems on the fly. 

Herd Planning

Milk production data can help you plan for a more profitable future because you can evaluate the milk production and profitability of specific cows individually. This data can then be used to plan future herds with better genetic potential and make your dairy farm more profitable.

Milk production data can help you plan for a more profitable future because you can evaluate the milk production and profitability of specific cows individually. This data can then be used to plan future herds with better genetic potential and make your dairy farm more profitable.


The milking parlor is the heart of your dairy farm and in order to run a profitable enterprise, it is essential to squeeze every ounce of profit from it that you possibly can. Most modern-day milk parlors are riddled with inefficiencies whether due to the milking protocol itself, the milkers and employees in the parlor, or the milk machine settings. By using a tool like Afmilk’s MPC you need never be in the dark about what is causing your parlor to lose money. Whether your farm is plagued by recurrent health issues, lower-than-expected productivity, or another problem, your MPC milk data will help you quickly get to the root of the problem so you can take immediate steps to restore your parlor’s optimal efficiency and maximum productivity.

Look out for part TWO of this series where we dive deeper into what you can learn from a quick glance at the MPC milk curve.


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