Head maintenance: Just do it!
Dairy shed maintenance isn't particularly difficult, time-consuming or expensive. But the cost of poor maintenance is potentially enormous in terms of the time, stress and cost of dealing with mastitis, or worse still if milk quality slips below premium.
Dairy Australia Countdown project leader, Dr John Penry, said it's a case of 'just do it'. The key is to build regular maintenance checks into the dairy routine, and to allocate the responsibilities to specific people working on the farm.
"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 to any problems that are found or suspected. Your milking machine technician is an important part of the off-farm team," Dr Penry said.
The Countdown Farm Guidelines outline the essential daily, weekly and monthly checks for milking machines. In addition, all milking machines require an annual dry test by a qualified milking machine technician 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 via the Countdown milking time tests.
- 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?
- 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 tube.
- Check filters on pulsator airlines especially in sheds where the filters are close to the feeders.
- 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 refer to Countdown Farm Guidelines available on the Dairy Australia website Countdown 2020 mastitis guidelines or phone Countdown (03) 9620 7283.
Countdown is an example of your levy at work. For more information on this and other examples of your levy at work visit Dairy Australia.