Tag Archives: dairy farm

Milking parlor

Know what’s happening with each dairy animal and the bulk milk tank in or near the milking parlor on the farm.
On this page we’ll only consider conventional milking parlors. For robotic milking, please click here.

For an introductory and abstract description of the Ekomilk – AMP system, click on the button:
Ekomilk-AMP system description

Ekomilk-AMP integration near or into the milking parlor
There are 2 common scenarios for conventional milking parlors:

  1. One central Ekomilk Horizon with the AMPI sample feeder (sample changer, sample collector), near the milking parlor.
    • This cost-efficient option requires the least investment and the least installation steps. Available from Q4 2017 and depending on your region.
      Please find here an intro video of the AMPI Sample Feeder with Ekomik Horizon: The sample feeder verifies and prepares every sample before supplying it to the milk analysis unit.
  2. On every milking position a digital AMPI sampler-connection: A rugged LCD display and an automatic sampler are required on every milking position.
    • This option requires a more significant upfront investment and installation. Available from Q1 2018 and depending on your region. An Ekomilk & AMP partnership program will be launched for this topic.
    • The automatic samplers in itself have a relatively high cost and are intended to create a milk sample during (a part of) the milking process, from which the somatic cell count value can be derived with acceptable accuracy.
    • In this scenario, in future we also plan to create an optional module for automatic diversion of high SCC milk into a separate jar or tank.

Click here for more info on somatic cell count and mastitis

For price quote requests, please indicate your preferred package and configuration:
Configure here your own Ekomilk-AMP solution
Click here if you don’t like long forms or if you want us to call you back

Selective dry cow therapy (SDCT) with AMPI and Ekomilk

For an introductory and abstract description of the Ekomilk – AMP system, click on the button:
Ekomilk-AMP system description

AMPI provides a special SDCT (Selective dry cow therapy) package which includes an accurate and fast on-farm Ekomilk somatic cell counter at $0.04 per test and a Cloud-based decision module for drying off and tele-vet module for vet advice on distance (remote diagnosis).

This SDCT package is the result of several years of research and field tests with major partners from the dairy industry (veterinaries, pharmaceuticals, udder hygiene, milk recording organisations or MROs, genomics and genetic selection organisations etc). This special SDCT package of course includes the new Ekomilk Horizon somatic cell counter at $0.04 per test with high accuracy and the optional auto-sampler.

Rear view of dirty dairy cow udder for selective dry cow therapy with AMPI and Ekomilk

Introduction to selective dry cow therapy (SDCT).

Selective dry cow therapy (SDCT) is the newer dry cow therapy following the traditional “blanket dry cow therapy” (BDCT). In the case of blanket dry cow therapy, every quarter (teat) of the udder is treated with antibiotics at drying off. As a reminder, “drying off” means that the daily milking routine of the lactation period is stopped; this is the start of the “dry cow period”. The dry cow period lasts till calving (parturition).

The idea behind blanket dry cow therapy (BDCT), practised for many years, was to cure clinical and even subclinical mastitis cases while also preventing new mastitis infections during the dry-off.

Drying off properly.

One of the challenges with the dry period is to manage the transition for the cow properly: if high yield milking is suddenly stopped, pressure in the udder builds up in the absence of regular milking. Instead the milking can be reduced gradually, less abruptly. As a reminder, in several countries, the minimum required daily milk yield for being profitable is around 25l per day, on average; of course we also have to take into account the typical lactation curve. Such high yield has to be reduced gradually for udder pressure control.

This control of udder pressure is relevant for mastitis control: usually mastitis infections occur when bacteria enter the teat canal. With udder pressure increasing, milk leaking can occur and this in turn means that the teat canal is not sealed against bacteria.

Adapting the cow’s nutrition is one of the ways to gradually reduce milk production.

Selective dry cow therapy (SDCT)

In the case of selective dry cow therapy (SDCT), a cow is only treated if certain udder health conditions are (not) fulfilled. Sometimes even udder quarters are distinguished in which case antibiotics treatments can even be more localized with a greater reduction of antibiotics use.

Selective dry cow therapy (SDCT) is now a legal obligation in several developed countries. For voluntary SDCT, the mindset of vets and farmers has to change, as several studies point out, for instance these by Prof Scherpenzeel:


One of the ideas of SDCT is to reduce the dependence of the dairy sector on antibiotics (antimicrobials).

Criteria for selective dry cow therapy (SDCT)

As Dr Supre from Flanders Milk Control Centre, Belgium, suggested, the following 3 criteria could be used for effective SDCT (compared to BDCT):

  • no clinical mastitis in that lactation,
  • daily milk yield had to be below 15kg and
  • the SCC for the three days prior to drying off had to be less than 100 000 cells/ml for heifers or below 150 000 cells/ml for cows.

Actually, as I heard from vets in other countries and as Dr Supre also mentioned, another study on SDCT showed that 300 000 cells/ml and 250 000 cells/ml are often adequate thresholds (cut-offs).

While earlier studies showed that SDCT is not as effective as BDCT, this is not true anymore in more recent studies. If properly managed with reliable tools and protocols, then SDCT can be at least as successful as BDCT. Administering antibiotics to low cell count cows at dry off would even entail other risks.

More details can be found on:



For an introductory and abstract description of the Ekomilk – AMP system, click on the button:
Ekomilk-AMP system description

AMPI special SDCT package

AMPI and Ekomilk special package for selective dry cow therapy SDCT

In the AMPI special SDCT package are included:

  • Ekomilk Horizon, the automated, accurate somatic cell counter for milk at $0.04/test with optional auto-sampler and sample feeder and optional measurement of fat, proteins, solids. Via AMPI a special discount price applies to Ekomilk instruments: http://www.ekomilk.eu/products/ekomilk-horizon
  • Cloud-based herd management software with tele-vet (remote diagnosis) module for deciding on how to dry-off each animal (usually dairy cows) with optional native Android app and with optional external database integration service with customised decision algorithms for your protected private usergroup.
    • Default decision algorithm, configurable by the user:
      • Clinical mastitis history of last 10 months
      • Choose your SCC (somatic cell count) threshold:
        • per udder quarter or composite
        • from 90 000 to 800 000 cells/ml
        • last milk yield
    • This default algorithm can be customised an extended with your preferred data, for instance:
      • bacteriology results
      • on-farm culturing (OFC) results
      • import from external databases
      • other
      • our IT team is at your disposal
  • Optional vet advice on distance over Skype, phone or email. Famous vet teams from several countries around the world are collaborating with us for instance the M-Team from Ugent in Belgium. Please contact us for details.


Available from Q4 2017. Please contact us for more details.


Cow mastitis monitoring module: somatic cell count and CMT

For an introductory and abstract description of the Ekomilk – AMP system, click on the button:
Ekomilk-AMP system description

What does this “mastitis monitoring” module do?

The mastitis monitoring module combines data from real-time measurements, touchscreen inputs (rugged tablet or smartphone) and databases. In this module, we combine individual and herd-level data from common sources (health indicators and parameters) in order to determine the category of the animal via algorithms. As a next step, the actions to take on both herd level and on individual level can be derived via another set of algorithms. “Individual level” means per animal or more granular – for instance per udder quarter (udder teat). “Animal” usually means cow (bovine, including calves, heifers and higher lactation cows) although some goat, buffalo and sheep farms are also using our Cloud-based software.

Common health indicators and parameters for analyzing the herd and individual cow status can include for instance:

  • Somatic cell count (SCC) results per quarter, per udder (also called “composite”, a mix of 4 udder quarters or udder versus teats) and per bulk milk tank. Accurate somatic cell count can be performed in less than 50 seconds and easy on-farm in the milking parlour at less than $0.04 per test. More about somatic cell count in the chapter below.
  • CMT (California Mastitis Test), using the typical paddle with 4 shallow wells. The CMT is manual, not automated and only gives a rough indication of the udder health status; common subclinical values.
  • Visual observations for the udder and the milk, usually performed during the daily milking routine or during the vet visit, for instance:
    • swelling
    • redness
    • chafing
    • colour change
    • ringing
    • warts
    • position of the teats
    • dirt on the teats or udder
    • milk flakes
    • clogged milk ducts
  • Parity: the lactation number of the cow has an influence on the mastitis impact and mastitis treatment options for the cow, at least when discerning first lactation (first calving heifers) from higher lactation cows.
  • Milk production
  • Medical record, fertility and disease history
  • Medical treatments
  • Other treatments
  • History of at least 12 months of all the above indicators and parameters

For an introductory and abstract description of the Ekomilk – AMP system, click on the button:
Ekomilk-AMP system description


Which algorithms?

An algorithm means a configurable or customisable decision tree. In other words, while we provide a simple (sometimes simplistic?) default algorithm for cow (animal) classification, you can send us your own, optimized algorithm which for a small free we implement in your own, private usergroup. It is logical that each private usergroup prefers its own decision algorithms on herd and on individual level:

  • country limits (thresholds):
    • our modules and instruments are used worldwide while the legal limits (thresholds) for for instance bulk tank somatic cell count differ strongly from 1 country to another, for instance 200 000 cells/ml for a composite udder sample SCC can be regarded as healthy in certain emerging markets while recently in countries like the Netherlands, 50 000 cells/ml has been decided as the healthy threshold for heifers. For bulk milk tank thresholds, values between 150 000 and 400 000 cells/ml are common and depend again on the country and region within a country besides milk supplier contract.
  • mastitis prevalence rates:
    • simply said, there is no use in using the earlier mentioned 200 000 cells/ml decision threshold for composite udder sample SCC if all are none of the animals (cows) on a specific farm or in a specific region are ever above this value. The local context (historical SCC average on farm and region) has to be taken into account for individual and herd decision making. Bulk milk tank SCC and the associated subclinical and clinical mastitis incidence rates are gradually bought down over several months or even years.
  • mastitis control plan:
    • data (health indicators and parameters) is usually only periodically available, whether on individual or herd level.  Based on the frequency of individual and herd analyses, algorithms might have to be adapted especially is the sampling frequency is truly limited.
  • available treatments:
    • if you (veterinary, farm technician) are working on a bio farm, medical treatment options are not the same as on conventional dairy farms. The use of antibiotics has to be limited in any case on all dairy farms and the choice for antibiotics is often getting more limited due to national legislation.
    • treatments for subclinical mastitis are still a topic of discussion and research. While medical treatments with antibiotics in the mid of a lactation are indeed often questioned, other actions are very much recommended to reduce the number and of sub-clinical mastitis cases, for instance:
      • culling in case of recurrent clinical cases: for several major mastitis pathogens, the cure rate is low when administering antibiotics if these antibiotics didn’t help in the past
      • proper hygiene during the milking routine: applying Options pre-dip and post-dip solutions (or sprays), using separate, disposable paper tissues for each cow to clean the teats before milking, milking infected (high cell count) cows last etc.
      • proper cow housing, bedding, stalls: dirty udders is asking for problems.
  • available data sources, cow health indicators and parameters:
    • sometimes crucial data such as individual somatic cell count is not available; our default algorithm is used to automatically try to find CMT result history instead.
  • domestic cow (animal) breeds versus common Holstein breed for dairy farms
  • other reasons

Why somatic cell count?

Somatic cell count remains by far the most reliable indication of the udder health (mastitis) status. The somatic cell count level indicates whether an udder quarter or the udder in general is inflamed, also if it is not clinical (no visible signs, sub-clinical). Udder inflammation is usually caused by bacteria while other factors such as cow stress can also play a role. Inflammation and infection have a good correlation but are fundamentally different; various correlation studies are available. One of the difference between infection and inflammation is explained by the significant self-healing rate for certain types of mastitis.

Other mastitis indicators than somatic cell count, such as lactoferrin, N-acetyl-b-D-glucosaminidase and lactate dehydrogenase have been recently commercialised but the challenge for farmers, farm technicians, veterinaries and udder health specialists remains to interpret these results. The number of studies available on decision-making with composite somatic cell count values grew exponentially since the 1960s and is many factors higher than any other mastitis indicator. Probably for every country with dairy livestock there is at least a few studies available about mastitis prevalence rates and common somatic cell count levels, individual and in the bulk milk tank (per udder quarter much less data is available).


Where to find CMT history, medical records and observation history?

That’s where this mastitis monitoring module also helps: CMT results can easily be entered via touchscreens on rugged liquids smartphones and tablets, suitable for use in rough environments like stalls and milking parlours. We also interface with common external databases for a fee for each private usergroup besides our own measurement instruments which can measure and transfer analysis results in real-time. Dashboards of evolution of your cow or globally on your farm or region are automatically generated, please see the example image below. Please try our demo and contact us for more information.

Evolution of cow mastitis and Udder Health on herd and on individual level: Automatic Summary graphs for dashboard
Evolution of cow udder health and mastitis on herd and on individual level: Automatic summary graphs for dashboard

How to perform bulk milk tank and individual somatic cell count on-farm?

Whether your farm employs conventional milking techniques (rotary, herringbone, carousel,..), fully automatic robotic milking or manual milking, there are now instruments which enable accurate somatic cell count on the farm (in the milking parlour), in the milk collection truck and in the laboratory at less than $0.04 per test and in about 65 seconds on average. The typical payback time for farm sizes between 40 and 500 cows is less than 6 months. The upfront investment cost in our mastitis management system is only a fraction of the extra farm profits which are likely when reducing the mastitis incidence rate.

AMPI Ltd (the Animal Monitoring Platform, that’s us) sells in one combined package:

Please contact us for more information by clicking here.

Our software and hardware solutions have been developed together with universities in USA, Europe and Asia. Veterinaries , farms and milk collection centers (milk processors) around the world have been working with our solutions (under the Ekomilk brand) for over 12 years. The total number of happy end-users is over 120 000 (Sept 2016). Every user is important to us!