Read Part 1 Here
After the cows have been pre-dipped, we move on to wiping the teat dip off and cleaning the teats. We want the teat, and particularly the teat end, as clean as possible. As soon as that is done we attach the milk machine.
This is what we look for, notice that as soon as the milker is attached the cow is letting her milk down and there is plenty of milk flowing into the “claw” of the milk machine almost immediately this only comes from a proper and consistent milking protocol. The faster the cow lets her milk down, the less time the milker is attached. The less time the milker is attached the easier the milking process is on the cow:
Once again as I mentioned in Part 1, each side of the parlor is broke into halves, so the milkers will attach the first 5 milkers on a side, before starting to prep the next five cows on a side.
The milkers have both suction (vacuum) and pulsation. There are rubber “inflations” on each of the cups that attach to the teats. A controller puts vacuum on these inflations rhythmically. This collapse each inflation and gently squeezes and releases the teat to milk it, while the vacuum pulls the milk away from the teat and into the pipeline.
The milk machines are equipped with flow sensors, if milk flow slows below a predetermined rate for a period of time, the milk machine detaches itself, first by shutting the vacuum off, and then by mechanically pulling the milker off. In this video you see the cow “assist” the take off. We see that from time to time, if you start seeing to many assists, you need to adjust something on your machines. It maybe your vacuum, your detach thresholds, or simply the time from vacuum shut off to the arm pulling the milker. The cows shouldn’t feel like they want to kick the machine off, but some will no matter what!
The last step is a quick post-dip of the cow. We want to see full coverage of each teat. The post dip is actually a little bit different solution then the pre-dip, it is a little bit thicker which helps it cling to the teat end to help seal out bacteria:
Once all the cows on a side are done, we let them go. Our parlor (and most modern parlors) is a “rapid exit” parlor, meaning all the cows are released at once. Some older parlors have single exit where the cows must exit one at a time from the front of the parlor.
Once the cows are clear, the bar comes back down, and the process starts over again!
I would estimate on average the cows are in the parlor for only 8 min or so. They may have some standing time in the holding area waiting to get milked, but the rest of the day they are free to eat and relax as much as they want! Not a bad life really!
We focus on keeping everything as clean and consistent as we can. It helps the cows, and we are producing food for people!
So now you know how to milk, the next time I get called out in the middle of the night to go milk, any of my blog readers can take my place! 🙂