The milking machine is the most important piece of equipment on every dairy farm, being used twice a day up to 365 days/year.

Because of this regular use, it is extremely important to ensure that it is working properly.

An incorrectly working milking machine has the potential to be a source of mastitis-causing bacteria, or could lead to an increase in cell counts in milk.

Daily checks

During the milking process there are a number of checks that should be completed. These checks ensure that the milking machine is working properly and that there are no issues during the milking process.

One of these checks involves the vacuum, and ensuring that there is no fluctuation during milking.

In general, the parlour should be operating at 47-48kpa – but this figure can vary depending on the milking machine brand and size.

Some other things to keep an eye on is the length of time it takes to milk a row of cows. There will be variation between cows and farms, but on average, from milk let-down to finish, it should usually take five to seven minutes.

Keep track of the number of liner slips that need to be corrected; five or less is acceptable for a 100-cow herd but a higher number could indicate an issue, i.e. an air admission hole on the claw piece being blocked.

These holes should be checked on an on-going basis as they can easily become blocked.

Milking machine

All rubber in a milking parlour needs to be regularly monitored, liners need to be changed every 2,000 milkings or every – roughly – six months.

All the other rubber wear needs to be checked too, such as the milk line and pulsation tubes.

Something that should be done regularly is opening and draining valves on pulsator airlines – any milk or water in the lines suggests a cracked liner or pulse tube.

Servicing should be carried out at least once a year, but the oil level in the vacuum pump should be checked on a weekly basis.


All of these checks help to prevent a breakdown from occurring during milking, which could potentially lead to a delay in milking.

It is important that you have some extra supplies for the parlour at hand, such as liners, pulsation tubes, milk lines and claw pieces.

This means that if something does happen during milking, these parts can be easily replaced.