Having a portable milking machine in your dairy farm will go a long way in boosting your dairy profitability. These machines are quite efficient in milk harvesting and transportation. They make it possible to milk herds in their grazing land and will eliminate the need to have a centralized milking parlor.
Having invested your money in this milking appliance, it is necessary that you understand how to operate it. You also need to go a step further and learn how to care for your machine and maintain it in the best state.
Most retailers will only sell milk machines but will not teach how to use milking machines. You need not worry. We got your back and have gone out of our way to teach you how to use, maintain and repair your milking machine.
What Are The Components Of A Milking Machine?
A milking machine is comprised of;
- Vacuum control and production system
- Milking unit
- Milk transportation system
- Cleaning, maintenance and sanitization system
These are the essential systems that every milking machine ought to have. Milk cooling is also included in some machines. However, this is not part of the primary system. It enhances the quality of milk but is not a necessity for every milking machine.
Essential Parts Of A Milking Unit
1. Teat Cups
Cattle milking machines have four teat cups while goat milking machines have two teat cups. The teat cups are designed to fit all shapes and sizes of animal teats.
The teat cups have a soft rubber lining. This lining expands and contacts to fit different types of teats. This is the only part of the milking machine that gets in contact with the cow teats or udder.
This is the part that connects the teat cups to the milk bucket or delivery pipes. The claw collects the milk from the cups and delivers it to the tank.
3. Pulsation Chamber
Milking is all about creating pressure difference. This pressure difference is brought about by the pulsator. The pulsator uses vacuum and air to create pulsation. The pulsation creates suction force thus drawing milk from cow teats.
4. Connecting Tubes
These are the tubes used to channel milk and air to the different milk machine components.
The other essential components include regulators, sanitary traps and balance tanks. All these components facilitate efficient operation and go a long way in ensuring the highest milk standards are achieved.
How Do Milk Machines Work?
Milking machines are not easy to operate. They need skilled operators. This is necessary in ensuring quality milk delivery and cow welfare. It’s important that you understand how these machines work.
Understanding how milk machines work demands keen focus on the whole milking process right from the insertion of teat cups to the transfer of milk from milking buckets.
The teat cups are the parts that get into direct contact with the animal. These cups have the milking and pulsator side. The two sides are separated by a thin membrane. The membrane is responsible for the pulsation.
Once the teat is inserted in the teat cup, it fills up the cup chamber. The machine is then turned on. This causes a vacuum to form in the chamber. Subsequently, milk is drawn from the cow teats.
The milking stage alternates with the resting stage. During the resting stage/phase, air rushes into the teat chamber. The air increases pressure inside the chamber. The increased pressure collapses the liner. This results in a massaging effect on the cow teats. The massaging effect increases blood flow to the teats and udder. It also helps avoid teat injuries.
Why Is Pulsation Important?
Pulsation serves several purposes. These purposes include;
- Protecting the teat from injuries-continuous suction of the teat can result in injuries. The extended suction periods can result in accumulation of lymph and blood in teats. This would result in stress and complications such as mastitis.
- Pulsation promotes blood circulation. This is very important in maintaining the teat in great health. It also stimulates milk production. The soothing that comes from the massage encourages the cow to produce more milk.
Milking machines have many contrasting characteristics. One of the characteristic that will be different in most machines is the pulsation ratio. Typically, a milking machine should have 60 pulses per minute. Regardless of the ration, the sum should always be a hundred percent (100%).
The pulsation ratios range between 70/30 and 50/50 combinations. The numerator (top) indicates the milking times while the denominator (bottom) indicates the massaging times. These ratios can be varied to suit the farm’s operations.
The most preferred pulsation ration is 60/40. This is the rate that gives moderate vacuum and pulsation. It is a ratio that will enable the machine draw milk from the cow efficiently, swiftly and safely. You will finish milking quickly without hurting the cow.
Rates beyond 70/30 aren’t recommended. Such ratios would result in fast milking at the expense of the cow’s health. It results in excessive teat sucking injuring the teats.
Ratios below 50/50 are safe for the cow but will result in slow milking. The ratio results in low suction thus little milk is extracted from the teats.
Modern cattle milking machines have dual pulsation. This is a system that allows the machine to have different ratios for the front and hind quarters. The hind quarters are set at the 60/40 ratio as they hold more milk than front quarters whose ratio may be 50/50.
Proper Way To Test Milking Machine Suction
Every farmer should ensure that their milking machine not only draws milk from the cow but is also comfortable. This demands that you conduct some tests before using any milking machine on the dairy cow. Here are the steps to follow when testing cow milking machines.
Start the vacuum machine. Use your finger to test the suction. Place the finger in the teat cup. Let it stay there for 20-30 seconds. This will help you assess how comfortable the cup is. Adjust the ratio until when comfortable levels have been achieved.
Faulty machines may give wrong test results. Such machines will have signs such as noisy and leaks. If you notice signs of bleed holes replace the parts. Failure to do so may result in teats ‘bathing up’. This may expose your milk to the risk of contamination.
Portable milking machines are designed differently. These machines have varying components and their operation also varies. This makes it necessary to understand your portable milking machine’s components and how to use it efficiently.
You may also need to learn how to maintain and repair the machine. We have covered that in a different post. These are tasks that are easy to perform if you have the right information. We hope that our outline on the simple procedures have been of help. Enjoy milking your cattle and maximize dairy productivity with these portable machines.