Milk Machine Operation And Maintenance

Having a milk machine makes work easy and increases efficiency. Breakdowns can be a major challenge resulting in downtime and huge losses not to mention the repair cost. So, how do you avoid these breakdowns? Let’s walk through together and learn how to operate and maintain milk equipment.

Brief History

There are lots of milk products in the market today and it is estimated that cows produce 83% of the milk that makes these products. Come to think of it, milk is intended for calves but what percent goes to the calves? Most of the milk is used by humans with calves getting less than 5% and this can explain why men are so interested in milk and its production.

Some decades ago, hand milking was the in thing but this has changed over time. Today, machines have been introduced and cows can be milked 2-3 times a day with ease. These machines are designed to imitate the calf’s milking and somehow make the cow release milk just like the calf would stimulate milk production.

The principle behind machine milking is the creation of pressure difference. The machine comes with a rubber liner that makes it possible to create low pressure to the teats compared to the surrounding atmospheric pressure. This guarantees milk flow with the milk being stored in a can. To make it safe for cows, the liner collapses periodically creating a relief and massage on the teat, a process known as pulsation. This typically happens once in every second.

How To Operate A Milk Machine

Step 1: Check The Machine Before Use

Do not just pick any machine and start milking as doing so would mean exposing your animal, yourself and the machine to huge risk. Ensure that the machine you are about to use is in good shape, is clean and is the right machine for the animal. Hygiene is paramount and should never be overlooked as it also determines the quality of milk to be collected.

Milk appliances should be cleaned daily after every use to ensure that milk doesn’t stick to the parts. While many may think that its other forms of dirt that make it necessary to clean the machine, milk itself can be very left to stick to the equipment. It contaminates the fresh milk and thus needs to be cleaned as soon as possible. Regular disinfection of tank, horse and suction cups is also essential.

Step 2: Attach All Caps And Tubes To The Machine

It’s important to ensure that all the caps and tubes have been attached appropriately. For the vacuum seal to be achieved, all the parts needs to be connected and the connections done correctly. Key to note is the O-ring that ought to be placed before attaching the lid. Failure to place the rings results in poor seal.

Step 3: Prepare The Cow

Ensure Proper Location And Feeds

Secure the cow in her parlor or stanchion. Normally, the cow will know where to go and stand if you are consistent with your milking schedule. Over time, the cow becomes preconditioned and will automatically tell what will happen next. Having some feeds keeps the animal happy and will give you an easy time while milking. It may also stimulate milk production.

Clean The Udder Thoroughly

A clean udder ensures that the appliance isn’t collecting any dirt during installation. Using a clean towel, clean the teats and the lower part of the udder to get rid of dirt and debris. Once that is done, initiate the milking process by squeezing the teats downwards as if hand-milking. This dislodges any plugs that may have accumulated at the end of the teats.

Dip Teats In Iodine Solution

Always have a 70% iodine solution ready before milking your cow and dip the teats for a couple of minutes. Leave the solution to dry and dab the excess iodine. Avoid touching the teats after the dip.

Step 4: Attach The Vacuum Line And Turn On The Vacuum Pump

For milkers that get power from an electrical outlet, plug your appliance and turn on. The same procedure should be followed when using motor powered milkers. Well, with some machines you may need to wait for the negative pressure to build up. With such machines, turn them on earlier to avoid delays and inconveniences. For optimum results, ensure that the pressure is 0.04 kPa before inserting the cups.

Note: Ensure that everything is securely attached before turning on the machine.

Step 5: Move The Milker Beside The Cow

This is necessary for milkers that move from one point to the other and may not be applicable to milkers fixed to the parlor. If not using a trolley, place the bucket on the ground next to the cow. this will leave enough operation room to access the udder with ease.

Step 6: Hold The Claw Under The Udder

The claw is the holding unit that enables the user to collect milk from all teats. Holding the claw beneath the udder makes it easy to ensure that the cups do not get twisted during milking. To get it right, ensure that the hose points to the front of the claw.

Step 7: Open The Vacuum

Once the vacuum is opened to the claw, listen to confirm that its clicking properly. Normally, the machine will tick once in every half or three quarter of a second. Just do not listen too long as this may see you lose pressure which is necessary in keeping the cups attached. Otherwise the cups will fall off due to insufficient pressure.

Step 8: Attach The Cups To The Teats

At this stage, ensure that all the cups are nicely fitted starting from the back right teat to the left and later to the front if you are milking from the left side of your cow. Make it quick and smooth to avoid losing suction. The best idea would be guiding the cups with your hand rather than trying to see the teats not unless the parlor is raised to allow you see under the cow.

Step 9: Confirm Whether Milk Is Flowing Into The Bucket

After attaching the cups, the milk should start flowing immediately. You should therefore see milk starting to enter the bucket. If this is not the case, check whether the cups are inserted correctly and the pressure is adequate.

Step 10: Remove The Cups

Wondering what’s the best way to do this? The best and easiest way of removing the cups is kinking the hose to the claw. This allows the cups to all off freely. Large and advanced milk machines have an automatic system of releasing the cups where individual cups fall off once that quarter of the udder is out of milk.

Step 11: Teat Dip The Cows

This should be done a minute after the cups have been removed. The purpose of doing this is avoiding infections and safeguarding the teat canal as it remains open for some time.

Step 12: Turn Off The Machine

After turning off the machine, remove the lid and pour out the milk into milk containers. Repeat the entire process for all the animals.

Step 13: Clean The Machine

Always ensure that you are cleaning the machine after the milking process is done. Clean the equipment using lots of water and cleaning solution. Place the suction cups’ open end into the pail of water. This allows the machine to suck the water through the hose to the bucket once its turned on. Repeat the process with clean water to rinse the entire machine.


With the milk machine being in use for 5-6 hours every day, it not only needs monthly maintenance but also daily maintenance. You do not want to deal with a broken machine thus the need to take good care of it. Here are the regular maintenance checks that should be given priority.


  • Wash the milk line, claws, hose, receiver jar and trap.
  • Check the rubber parts for tears, holes or water in shells. Replace those with holes.
  • Check vacuum recovery time and vacuum levels. The recovery time shouldn’t be more than three seconds after opening the milking unit.
  • Check belt tension in in vacuum pumps. This should be 0.5-inch from rest position. Also check the oil reservoir.
  • Confirm that pulsulators are working. This can be checked with the thumb in the liner. Also check each of the bleeder vents in the milk unit. A fine wire is needed for short milk tube vents but a paper clip can be used on claw vents.
  • Check for air leaks


  • Clean the moisture drains and vacuum regulator valves.
  • Check vacuum regulator and pulsulator filters, clean and replace if necessary.
  • Inspect short vacuum tubes using a vacuum gauge to determine whether the pulsulators open and close fully.
  • Check electric connections for tightness and stall cocks for leaks.
  • Open weigh jars and receiver jars and clean gaskets and fittings.
  • Four to Six Weeks
  • Disassemble pulsulators, clean screens and air ports. Replace the worn out parts.
  • Using the vacuum gauge, check each pulsulator’s operation.
  • Disassemble vacuum regulators and clean them. Replace air filters.
  • Clean the pulsulator vacuum lines.
  • Inspect air tubes, milk hose and vacuum hose.
  • Check the float and wash trap inside and outside.

Every Six Months

  • Keenly inspect the entire milk system.
  • Replace all hose, air tubes and rubber parts.
  • Replace milk hoses.
  • Check and replace the receiver jar gasket.
  • Install new rubber hoses as well as rubber hose nozzles used in washing udders.
  • Change belts and oiler on vacuum pumps.

Doing these preventive services is quite essential as they reduce breakdowns and give the machine a longer life. Preferably, you should engage a professional in the six month servicing as this will help identify the parts that are completely worn out or require upgrading.


Knowing what to do and when to do it is quite important when operating a milk machine. Keenly follow the specified operation and maintenance schedule and you can be sure of having a machine that is less troublesome. Proper maintenance increases efficiency and gives you value for money.