Milking equipment: A LIVESAVER for healthy teats
Look, Listen and Feel!
Critical words and concepts you learn in first aid and CPR that are imperative to assess a person’s well being who’s been traumatized. LOOK at their position, complexion, vital visual signs; get close and LISTEN for airflow and breathing; and FEEL for a pulse which assures blood flow.
These same words are critical and are the basis for assessment and health of your milking equipment and routines. They can be a lifesaver and are often the difference between profitability and problems, as proper airflow and milk flow are as vital to milking equipment as air and blood flow is to humans.
Use your eyes to assess vital signs, including milk flow
- Look to make sure teats, especially ends are clean and dry before putting milker unit on.
- Look to see that milk gushes into the claw continuously once the unit is attached.
- Look to see that milk moves as a fast slug through the milk hose! If slow, look for clogged bleed holes in claws/shells.
- Look at all the rubber parts (inflations and hoses)! Are they worn out, cracked, kinked?
- Look at your regulator? When’s the last time you cleaned the air filter?
- Look at your vacuum gauge. Is it the same level every day? Does it fluctuate? When you turn the system off, does it go to zero?
Use your ears to assess proper air flow
- Listen to the air bleeding into your claws/shells. No noise means slow, poor milkout.
- Listen to your pulsators. (better yet-take off an air hose and listen to the intermittent air bursts). They should be loud and crisp and all units the same. Critical for teat health.
- Listen to your regulator! It should be letting in a lot of air (your air insurance policy).
- Listen for irregular air sounds! (leaks, cracks, tore inflations, etc). This is detrimental to equipment and cow health
Use your fingers to assess proper unit function
- Feel (put finger) on bleed holes. You should feel the suction.
- Feel (put 4 fingers) in the inflations of each unit! Do they feel similar? Different? This tells vitals about inflations and pulsation functions (twisted, leaks, proper massage, etc.)
Look, listen and feel - critical steps in lifesaving for humans and cows (milking time). But don’t wait until after the trauma occurs. Use your senses and these simple tools on a routine basis to assure healthy milking practices and equipment. Your cow’s and your livelihood depend on it!
Leo Timms is a state dairy specialist with Iowa State University Extension & Outreach