Tech Tips

Tech Tips is where Rob Moyle will share some little gems that he has accumulated during his many years as a milking machine technician and mastitis adviser.

Air admission hole blocked with muck
Air admission hole blocked with muck

It started as just a routine machine test by Rob, but it ended up being a whole lot more important!

He quickly discovered a significant number of blocked claw air admission holes, some even took a bit of scraping with a screwdriver to find the air admission hole!

milking time testing
milking time testing

At a recent milking time visit to a particularly high producing herd, we noticed mean claw vacuums during our milking time testing often getting as low as 30 – 32 kPa during peak milk flow, despite the system vacuum being 44.5 kPa.

Countdown recommends mean claw vacuums between 36 kPa and 42 kPa during peak milk flow, so we were keen to understand better what was happening at this herd.

This was an ideal opportunity to use “Daisy”, our artificial udder, to do some true “wet testing” of the machines.

Dirty teats
Dirty teats

Several of our dairy regions are now very wet, and this cold, wet, & often windy weather can quickly cause teat skin to become dry, cracked and chapped.

Dry, cracked teat skin significantly increases the risk of mastitis due to the cracks in the skin harbouring more bacteria, and it also causes significant changes in milking machine performance.

Once teats are coated with dried mud, the teat spray cannot get through to kill the bugs in the cracked skin underneath, and neither does the emollient get through to lubricate and moisturise the skin properly. Thus the skin just dries out more and more, and a self-worsening cycle has begun!

We are commonly asked about "wet testing" a milking plant, and the name is also used quite widely, but true wet testing is probably not what most people are referring to when they use that description.

There are actually five types of milking machine tests recognised by Countdown and the IDF (International Dairy Federation):

Digital vacuum gauge
Digital vacuum gauge

A change in your milking system vacuum level can result in changes to milking performance that you might readily notice - extra cup slip, clusters that do not drop off as easily at cup removal, unsettled cows, swollen or discoloured teats after cup removal, etc.

Sometimes it might require a significant change in the vacuum to cause some or all of these signs in your milking system, but damage is actually likely to be occurring before the change reaches the stage where you see these signs.

Protected teat spray nozzle
Protected teat spray nozzle

Teat disinfection is the most important action in the dairy during milking for mastitis control - yet it is also one of the hardest actions in which to achieve best practice.

Best practice is 100% coverage of 100% of teats, which generally requires a minimum of 20 ml of teat disinfectant (teat spray) through a well-adjusted nozzle which gives a good “splat” pattern.

Spray nozzles often get knocked around in the dairy from hitting steel and concrete and as the nozzle wears away, it affects the spray pattern produced by the gun, making it dificult to achieve good coverage of teats.

Replacing the guns is an expensive exercise, so here’s a tip to help preserve those nozzles.

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