This research communication describes how different detachment levels (0.48, 0.3 and 0.06 kg milk/min) at the quarter-level affect milk flow profiles and overall milking efficiency in automatic milking systems. We hypothesized a higher detachment level would result in greater mean flow rates without affecting the volume of harvested milk per cow during 24 h compared to lower detachment levels. The data suggest milk flow decreased to a rate below the overmilking limit within the 6-s delay time required for termination in all treatments, but the duration of overmilking was shorter for the greatest detachment level compared to the other treatments. We conclude that setting a detachment level at a greater milk flow rate reduces the duration of overmilking without affecting the amount of milk harvested when applied to cows in mid-lactation during quarter-level milking. We also suggest that the steepness of the decline phase of the milk flow curve might have a larger effect than the actual detachment level on the duration of overmilking.
Keywords: Dairy cow; detachment level; quarter level milk flow curve; quarter level milking.