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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Homogeneity density scores of quarter milk in automatic milking systems

Sandgren, C. Hallen; Anglart, D.; Klaas, I. C.; Ronnegard, L.; Emanuelson, U.


Milk quality and clinical mastitis in dairy cows are monitored by detecting visually abnormal milk. A standardized method to evaluate clots in milk and studies of the incidence and dynamics of clots in milk at the quarter level are lacking. We validated a method to score clot density in quarter milk samples and describe the prevalence and dynamics of the density scores between consecutive samplings and periods in 4 farms with automatic milking systems. Using in-line filters, we collected quarter milk samples at each milking during 3 periods of 30 h each in each farm. Clot density was scored based on coverage of the filter area as 0 (negative), 1 (trace), 2 (mild), 3 (moderate), 4 (heavy), and 5 (very heavy). The score for a specific quarter and milking is referred to as the quarter milking score (QMS). Three assessors independently scored 902 images of filter samples with a Fleiss kappa value of 0.72. In total, 21,202 quarter milk samples from 5,398 milkings of 621 cows were collected. Of the quarter filter samples, 2.4% had visible clots, distributed as mild (1.4%), moderate (0.6%), heavy (0.3%), and very heavy (<0.1%, n = 8). Cases with a cow period sum of QMS >= 4, corresponding to 9.4% of all periods, harbored 86% and 94% of all QMS of 2 to 5 and 3 to 5, respectively. Of these cases, cows sampled in all 3 periods and clots in only 1 period had a quarter period sum score >= 1 in 1.8 different quarters in average. Corresponding numbers for the cows with clots or traces in 2 or 3 periods were 2.2 and 2.5 different quarters, respectively. A QMS of 2 to 5 in the preceding milking increased the chance of a QMS >1 in the following milking, with an average chance of 38%. The probability of a QMS > 1 increased with increasing previous QMS, a higher sum of QMS during the milking period, longer milking interval, and higher lactation number, but decreased with increasing days in milk. Our study showed that the method of clot-density scoring is feasible to perform and reproducible for investigating the occurrence and dynamics of clots in milk. Elevated clot-density scores clustered within certain cows and cow periods and appeared in new quarters of the cows over time. The low recurrence of QMS of 1 and 2 within quarters indicated that QMS 3 could be a reasonable threshold for detecting quarters with abnormal milk that require further attention.


mastitis; dairy cow; clot; quarter milk; score

Published in

Journal of Dairy Science
2021, volume: 104, number: 9, pages: 10121-10130

Authors' information

Hallén Sandgren, C.
DeLaval International AB
Anglart, D.
DeLaval International AB
Klaas, I.C.
DeLaval International AB
Dalarna University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science

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