The Milking Machine and its Failings

Milking systems have progressed over the years with the introduction of new technology and automation however the principle of milk removal from the teat has changed very little

This has provided the dairy farmer with improvements in productivity by reducing the labour involved in the milking process. Unfortunately there are some basic functional problems with the milking equipment that causes poor milking performance and reduced milk quality.

Evidence is provided of why conventional milking systems in use today do not work well. It explains why cows do not milk out well, why their teats are irritated and what causes liner crawl and incomplete milk out.

There have been many attempts in the past 40 years to improve the performance of conventional milking systems. The known performance problems include liner slip, teat crawl, teat damage, teat irritation/pain and incomplete milking. These attempts have produced numerous inventions by the major milking equipment manufacturers.

When there is no milk flow biphasic milking phase and end milk phase the teat becomes flaccid and its frictional engagement with the milking liner less stable, whereby the teat tends to be sucked deeper into the teat cup. Thus, each teat cup crawls on the teat towards the udder and thereby causes strangulation of the milk conducting interior of the teat close to the udder, so that milking becomes more difficult and finally the milk flow completely ceases in spite of the fact that some milk still remains in the udder.

Various attempts have been made to improve the effects of vacuum on the teat by carefully shaping the teat cup and liner to support the teat as well as possible including fluted .square or triangular liners

A milking machine exposes the cow’s teat tips to a relatively strong milking vacuum, usually about 40-50 kPa. (40-50 kPa is 11.8 to 14.8 in Hg) along with liner compression this strong milking vacuum and force means that the teats could be in pain initially during the milking, when the milk flow is low or non-existing, This may lead to that the hormone adrenaline is secreted and makes continued milk extraction difficult.

A high milking vacuum is needed primarily for ensuring a safe attachment of the teat cups to the teats and, secondary, for achieving a rapid milking and a high milk yield. However, a disadvantage of such a high milking vacuum could distress the teats, especially at the beginning and at the end of the milking interval when there is no or insignificant milk flow through one or more teats.

A low milking vacuum while it is safe to say the pressure on the teat is less it may cause slow incomplete milking due to impaction off milk on the teat end, this in turn will cause distress and release adrenalin the cow stops milk release.

Milking Machines are not perfect at the moment its all we have.

Having your milking equipment to its optimised performance is essential, training staff to understand the consequences of poor milkability should be a fundamental objective.