Milking data


Welcome to the interest group

'Milking data'


This is the place where you can discuss "milking data", i.e. all kinds of data gathered during the milking process. Please use the menu on the left to navigate to the discussion forum, or upload/download documents.






A massive amount of data is being colected in the milking parlor, through dairy sensors or dairy herd improvement programs. Cow's milk is subjected to a lot of different measurements, since the milk itself contains loads of information. This interest group will focus on all data coming from milk measurements, i.e. "milking data". Tips and tricks on how you can use these data will be given in the best practice guide. Information can be exchanged and discussion on the topic can be held in the online forum.


What can milk tell us about the cows?


  • Bulk milk: The safety and quality of all milk-based products are secured in Europe through national of regional monitoring programs. The chemical compoisition and microbiological analysis of bulk milk is closely monitored. In addition, the amount of milk and its composition (protein, fat, ...) are measured at every collection, since these measurements form the basis of the farmer's pay-out.
  • Individual cow's milk: Milk samples can also be analyzed at the individual cow level for concentration of fat, protein, urea and more. This information can be used to adjust and rethink the herd's ration, and correct feeding mistakes. Individual milk analysis can also be used to detect cows in heat, pregnant cows or even confirm whether or not the cow had access to pasture.


On-farm measurements 


Besides the routine milk testing programs, offered by national or regional dairy herd improvement associations and animal health organisations, milking data is also gathered on farm during the milking process. Probably the most commonly used paramater is the milk yield, measured by milking meters (whether or not ICAR-approved), milk flow indicators or recording jars. Actual milk production (on cow level or quarter level) is used in decision support guidelines and attention lists. To become reliable data, appropriate maintenance and yearly calibration are recommended. 

It's even possible to collect information on the fat-, protein or lactose level of each individual cow at each milking event. To see which sensor technology can be used for milk composition, we refer to the best practice guide. The facts that this information is available on a daily basis, makes it possible to correct for daily variations (or even variation within one milking). Milk composition can be used for several purposes. For example, deviations in fat/protein ration can be an indication of metabolic diseases. Lactose will decrease in case of mastitis, and urea can be used to evaluate the herd's ration. Milk can also be used to determine reproduction status of the cow by measuring the progesterone levels in the milk. Based on the progesterone profile, the farmer is informed about (silent) heat, pregnancy, embryonic loss, folicular and luteal cysts or prolonged anoestrus.

These topics are the subject of other interest groups. For more detailed information, we advise you to check the SIG on these specific topics.