Milking machine equipment has been designed to harvest milk efficiently and maintain healthy teats. Teats are attached to milking machines for 50-100 hours per lactation.
Machines that are not functioning correctly can contribute to new mastitis infections by:
- Spreading bacteria from teat to teat and from cow to cow
- Damaging the teat ends and natural defence mechanisms of the teat canal
- Causing impact of bacteria-laden droplets into the teat canal, especially towards the end of milking
- Reducing the degree or frequency of full udder milk-out.
The most common reason for milking machine problems is inadequate routine maintenance of mechanical components and rubberware. A series of regular, systematic checks gives a simple method of finding problems and guiding preventative maintenance.
If more than one person milks in your dairy, it is important to assign these checks to particular people, and ensure that the right person is alerted to any problems that are found or suspected.
Daily and weekly checks should be conducted by milking staff as part of their regular list of responsibilities. Monthly checks should be done by the herd owner or manager or other skilled observer. Recording the results of monthly checks enables subtle changes due to wear and age to be detected more easily.
6.1 - Use the daily, weekly and monthly guides to check machine function
Click on the links below to view the guides:
- Daily checks
- Weekly checks
- Monthly checks
6.2 - Call a milking machine technician if you observe any abnormalities in the milking machine during your daily, weekly or monthly checks
Your Dairy Assessor or milk quality specialist can provide details of certifiued machine testers in your area. A full list of current technicians, certified by the NZ Milking and Pumping Trade Association (NZMPTA) can be found at www.nzmpta.co.nz.
A machine tester can undertake the following:
- Ensure that vacuum levels and airflows are appropriate for the machine
- Check that the pulsators are working correctly
- Service faulty pulsators
- Help correct all faults promptly.
You should receive a full report from your milking machine technician at the end of the visit. Vacuum recordings made during milking can be helpful to pinpoint some machine faults. A registered milking machine technician can also conduct other tests at milking time to help rectify problems.
SmartSAMM recommends that every milking installation is serviced twice per year.
See Guideline 25 for more on tests that a certified milking machine technician can perform.
6.3 - Change liners at regular intervals
Teat cup liners are designed to flex and squeeze the teat during each pulsation cycle. This is essential to massage the teat and maintain its blood supply. When fitted into a correctly matched teat cup, the liner should be stretched 5-16% more than its original length.
As soon as they start work, liners begin to lose tension, absorb fat and hold bacteria. Once they have been used for too many cow milkings, the deterioration is sufficient to reduce the speed and completeness of milking, increase teat end damage, and increase spread of mastitis bacteria.
- The effective life of liners is influenced by:
- The characteristics of the materials they are made from
- The conditions of storage, cleaning and use they experience
- Their exposure to sun, heat, chemicals and ozone.
Most manufacturers recommend that rubber liners are used for 2,500 cow milkings or 5 months, and then changed. The recommended life for silicone liners is 5,000 cow-milkings.
See SmartSAMM Liner Ready Reckoner for estimating the number of days for 2,500 cow milkings.