September 3, 2008

How to Improve Milking

Milking is when animal-human interactions are at their maximum. There’s no more important time of day for dairy farmers and their staff and the effects of this interaction can be measured directly in the milk vat. So it’s easy to see success and failure.

The points below are presented with the permission of New Zealand’s most accomplished milking consultants – Jan Fox and Mel Eden. Contact Mel at PO Box 12-420, Hamilton, New Zealand. Email

To ensure benefits for the cows

• Check the cows to see if the liners have milked them out properly.
• Check for correct rubber and dropper lengths
• Improve cluster alignment.
• Use a wire clip on cows with light quarters.
• Use vitamin creams on teats.
• Lower the milkline and vacuum levels.
• Widen the entrance way into the yard.
• Have nibs on concrete races and a footwash area.
• Have a solid lead-in wall in a HB extending at least 3-4 m from the end of the building.
• Create a funnel area to improve lead in to the HB.
• Round off the end of the breastrail.
• Use a small ‘pick-up’ gate to improve the action of the backing gate in a round yard and avoid a corner.
• Have a hock rail on the backing gate.
• Have a nib or pipe along the HB pit wall to prevent cows slipping.
• Lower the HB breast rail to improve cow comfort.
• Change the breastrail adjustment to a chain type to make easier adjustment.
• Use a zig-zag rather than a straight rail.
• Alter all pipework that bash the cows’ hips or backs.
• Check that the first bail in the HB is big enough.
• Fix the catch post so it isn’t in the cow’s face.
• Move the hinge post to be in line with the rump rail or cut it down below cow hip height.
• Use a rotating rump back bar and not a chain to hold the cows in.
• Fit an anti-jump bar in front of the cows
• Widen the exit race to at least 2.5m and preferably 3m.
• Make the drafting gate operable from the pit.
• Check and fix voltage problems.
• Roughen concrete to prevent cows slipping. Cows hate to fall down.
• Fit a spring-hinged small gate between entry/exit on rotaries.
• Cut the exit rails in rotary down to rump rail height or lower.

To ensure benefits for the milkers
• Deepen the pit.
• Use rubber mats to reduce backache and cramp.
• Reduce reach to the cows.
• Use a rope-operated switch to control the backing gate.
• Fit a warning bell on the backing gate.
• Fit a rope to shut the front gate.
• Improve lighting and use natural light.
• Use mirrors to see what’s going on in the yard.
• Use a sensor light on pathways and for tanker driver.
• Use freezer-bag ties to clear air admission holes - easier to see than pins.
• Use a peg basket on milkline to hold gear.
• Fit clear pulse tubes- easy to identify a split liner.
• Number the bails.
• Provide a sheltered area for bike and wet weather gear.
• Have a warm-water hand washing hose in the pit and milkroom.
• Put up some horticulture screening for shelter.
• Have a sheltered walkway to the milk room.
• Improve air flow to reduce fly annoyance.
• Put the regulator in the milkroom to reduce noise.
• Mount the vacuum pump and motors on the floor.
• Have a filtered air system on the pulsators to reduce noise.
• Have sealed doorway on the milkroom to reduce noise.
• Guard all pulleys and end of rotating shafts.
• Fit a froth dispenser.
• Have a separate colostrum line.
• Have a handle on the test bucket to hook over nib or into a bracket.
• Have a combined cupboard with the door as a fold-down table.
• Fit shield over the milk tank outlet to stop wash water spilling on to tanker driveway.
• Make a spray-can holder from PVC pipe and No 8 wire.
• Make a cradle for drums for easier emptying.
• Have step-up rails in the pit for short folk.
• Check the earthing on the drench gun.
• Fit a quick connector hose and tap for flushing out drench lines.
• Have a return pulley on the drench gun.
• Have a hooked nozzle on the drench gun.
• Have a raised drench race.
• Tilt the breast rail to increase drenching space.
• Use a coiled hose for the drenching system.
• Mount the drench hose on a wire to prevent wear.
• Put the radio in a sound shell so it can be heard more clearly.

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