Milking Equipment Maintenance

Pulsator

Common Issues:

Dust and debris build-up

Potential Impact on Milk Quality:

Improper pulsation can lead to poor milker performance, liner slippage and incomplete milk out. These issues can lead to increased risk of mastitis. Poor pulsation can also lead to improper cleaning of the milking unit and hose attached to it.

Solution:

Clean and service pulsators at least once a year. Proper maintenance depends on the style and brand of pulsator. Consult your dealer for proper cleaning and maintenance.

Vacuum Regulators

Common Issues:

Dust and debris build-up

Potential Impact on Milk Quality:

Inability of regulator to function properly may result in increased vacuum levels. Vacuum levels which are too high can lead to teat end damage, increasing the risk of mastitis.

Solution:

Check and clean regulator screen and filter monthly, and more often if in an extremely dusty area. Consult dealer for any specific requirements for your regulator.

Bulk Tank Outlet Valves

Common Issues:

Milk residue

Potential Impact on Milk Quality:

Improper cleaning of outlet valves has been implicated in many cases of elevated bacteria counts. Outlet valves should not be placed in a wash dish and left to be flushed with wash solution as it drains from the bulk tank. This method does not provide enough scrubbing action to properly clean milk contact surfaces.

Solution:

Manually clean outlet valves after each milk pick up, and disassemble if practical. Sanitize before using again. Carefully check all gaskets, butterfly valves, etc, to ensure no residue remains.

Rubberware (liners, gaskets, hoses)

Common Issues:

Inking, flaking and wear

Potential Impact on Milk Quality:

All rubber, silicone and plastic components of the milking system have a defined lifespan. Cleaning chemicals, hot water and everyday use all wear on these components. As the component ages and wears, its ability to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized diminishes. The component may also begin to flake or "ink", causing residues of these components to find their way into the milk. Also, the increased roughness of the interior surfaces can lead to greater harbourage by bacteria, leading to higher bacteria levels in the milk.

Solution:

Replace worn components. Consult your dealer on the lifespan of your specific component. The following list is a general guideline for replacing common milking system components:

Plastic milk hose: 12 months

Silicone milk hose: 24 Months

Rubber pipeline gaskets: 12 months

Silicone gaskets: 24 months

Rubber inflations/liners: 1500 milkings

Silicone inflations: 6500 milkings

Compressor Radiators

Common Issues:

Dust, webs, oil, etc.

Potential Impact on Milk Quality:

Insufficient airflow through the radiator can lead to slow cooling and/or compressor failure. Failing to cool milk quickly can lead to elevated bacteria counts.

Solution:

Cleaning of radiators should be discussed with your dealer. The fins on the radiator are often very soft materials, and damage to the fins can lead to similar problems as being plugged with dust, causing slow cooling. Note that compressors and fans can start without notice, and are electrical devices, so care must be taken to avoid contact with these components.

Air Injector

Common Issues:

Settings and filters

Potential Impact on Milk Quality:

The importance of the scrubbing action of a good long slug of cleaning solution through the pipeline should not be overlooked. Dusty filters on air injectors can cause poor performance. Improper open/closed times can cause cleaning issues. For example long open (air draw) time can cool hot wash temperatures and allow soil to redeposit.

Solution:

Clean air injector filters regularly. Optimum air injector settings require an experienced technician. It is a skill and an art to achieve the best flow dynamics. Ideally the dealer completes a slug analysis. Evaluating the air injector setting should be part of yearly maintenance.

Bucket Milker System Vacuum Line and Hoses

Common Issues:

Unclean vacuum line

Potential Impact on Milk Quality:

Bucket milking vacuum systems can be a source of contamination and cause high bacteria counts. Condensation, milk droplets, and airborne contaminants are frequently drawn into the vacuum line and can eventually accumulate into sludge.

Solution:

The interior of bucket milker vacuum lines and hoses need to be examined and cleaned at a minimum of every 6 months, more often in the summer months and with increasing number of buckets. Vacuum lines need to be sloped to an auto drain. The stall cocks need to be on the upper portion of the line (a 10 o'clock position). Pulsator check valves prevent moisture or any contaminating substance from the vacuum system from contacting the milk. These valves need to be in good repair and seated properly to be effective.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: Mike Foran and Phillip Willman, Raw Milk Specialists, Dairy Food Safety Program/ OMAFRA
Creation Date: 1 August 2012
Last Reviewed: 1 August 2012