Now is a good time to review milking machine maintenance and set in place a routine for regular checks throughout the year.

Milking machine problems can easily occur if the maintenance routine is not adequate or outside events such as floods, push milking machine function to its limits. If more than one person milks in your shed, it is important to assign these checking tasks to particular people, and ensure that the right person is alerted when there are any problems.


The Countdown Downunder Farm Guideline 6 outlines the essential daily, weekly and monthly checks for milking machines. In addition, all milking machines require an annual dry test to maintain proper performance.


Daily and weekly checks should be conducted by milking staff as part of their regular responsibilities. Monthly checks should be done by the herd owner or manager or other skilled observer. Call a milking machine technician if you observe any abnormalities during these regular checks. If you are unsure about teat condition during milking it is worth having a trained advisor assess the milking plant and process.


Daily checks

Check the air admission holes (air vents). Remove any debris.

Check the vacuum gauge. (high line: 48-50kPa; mid line: 46-48kPa; low line: 42-45kPa).

Listen to pulsators. The sound should be both regular and intermittent, and the same for

all pulsators.

Watch milk entering the receival can. Flow should be even, without flooding or slugging.

Check teats as the cups come off at the end of milking. Look for discolouration, swelling

or hardness, unusual sensitivity to touch. Examine teat openings for signs of cracking or sores.

Check cow behaviour. Are cows nervous or uncomfortable or stepping or kicking?


Weekly checks

Check for twisted liners. Align marks on mouthpiece and tail of liner.

Check liner condition. Look for distortion of the mouthpiece lip or holes in the short milk


Check filters on pulsator airlines especially in sheds where the filters are close to the



Monthly checks

Check effective reserve and regulator function.

Count cup squawks and slips requiring correction by milker. A running tally over 15

minutes of milking provides a guide. If it is more than 10 slips per 100 cows the

machine requires maintenance.


For more information: Countdown Downunder Guideline 6 (Monitor and maintain milking

machine function) available on

or give us a call!




The arrival of the New Year is a good time to change the teat cup liners in the dairy plant. Liners should be changed every four to six months, or after 2500 cow-milkings, whichever comes sooner.


The age of liners is calculated in terms of cow-milkings, and the Countdown Downunder Farm Guidelines show how to calculate liner life in cow milkings; but if you haven’t changed them in the past six months, now is the time!




“As a rule of thumb, if you notice an improvement in milking performance after replacing liners, the old ones were used for too long. Using liners for too many milkings increases risk of teat end damage and concurrent mastitis in Subtle and progressive damage can occur over several weeks and may only be detected by careful examination and scoring of teats and teat ends. The liner is the most important part of the milking machine as far as the cow is concerned, because it is the only part of the plant in direct contact with the teat during milking,” he said.

Cows are attached to machines for 50-100 hours each lactation so there’s plenty of

opportunity for teat damage if there is any problem with the milking system.

Trying to squeeze a few more weeks or months from the liners in a dairy is almost always a

poor option.


As liners age, their shape, tension and surface condition changes gradually. Both the internal surface and milking performance of liners tend to deteriorate more quickly soon after they reach their designated use-by date.


When renewing liners, always change all four liners within a cluster at the same time, to maintain similar mounting tension and milking characteristics between the four teatcups.

Make sure you purchase a liner that matches your teat cups. Don’t be tempted by what’s on special or what looks roughly similar to the one you are using.