English for Agriculture - Beginners and Intermediate

Milking Machines (Automated Milking)

The goal of automated milking is to make the continuous presence of the dairy man during milking unneccesary. The entry of cows into the milking unit, and the adaptation and removal of the teat cups are automated. Automated milk will have a great impact on the management of the dairy farm, on the cow, and on the farm family as part of society.

Because of the use of automated milking, it is expected that the farmer and his family are less in touch with the farm because automated milking allows the farmer to be most of the time away from the farm. This may make the dairy farmer’s job to become more skillful. Some farmers would never use these machines because they prefer to be in touch with the animals and nature .Also, smaller farms (below 40 cows ) may not be interested in automated milking systems because it is expensive to invest on these machines ; Also, they could have the risk of using them below  their expected  minimun capacity.

 The interest on these milking machines will vary from country to country depending on the circumstances and attitudes. Famers who use the stall barn system will not use these machines because the cow is tied up in a stall for resting, feeding, milking, and watering. The farmers who use the loose-housing system will like to use them because these milking robots currently in operation require self-entrance of the cow and  also the cow can enter  to the milking stall several times a day.

Here are some advantages and disavantages when using these machines:



·         Elimination of labor - Physical labor is reduced. This also reduce the cost of having a dairy farmer. These farmers would not have rigid schedules to milk them. They would have more time to focus on supervising the animals, feeding, etc. They can have an extra time to become more skillful.

·         Milking consistency - The milking process is consistent for every cow and every visit, and is not influenced by different persons milking the cows. The four separate milking cups are removed individually, meaning that an empty quarter does not stay attached while the other three are finishing, resulting in less threat of injury. The newest models of these machines can change the pulsation rate and vacuum level based on milk flow from each quarter.

·         Increased milking frequency – Milking frequency may increase to three times per day, however typically 2.5 times per day is achieved. This may result in less stress on the udder and increased comfort for the cow, as on average less milk is stored.

·         Herd management – With the use of computers it is easier to collect data. Such data allows the farmer to improve management and can help to have health history for each cow that could help to detect any changes in cows.

·         Lower stress to the herd reduces stress throughout the lactation by creating good milking routines.



·         Higher initial cost - These machines cost approximately €120,000

·         Increased electricity costs - It is a fact because when operating these machines electricity becomes an important fixed cost.

·         Maintenance machine cost - increases the dependence on manufacturer maintenance services and possibly increasing operating costs.

·         Difficult to apply in grass systems - Milking machines works best in zero-grazing systems, in which the cow is housed indoors for most of the lactation period. In grass systems, cows graze in fields and are required to walk to the milking room. It has been found that cows tend not to go to the milking rooms if the distance to walk is too great.

·         Lower milk quality High PLC in automated milking machine is because the continuous use of milking lines (instead of twice a day in conventional systems), which reduces the time window for cleaning, and the incremental addition of milk to the bulk milk tank which may not cool efficiently at low milk levels.

·         Decreased contact between farmer and herd - when a farmer is in touch with the animals, he can be aware of herd condition. In human milking, the cows are observed before milking equipment is attached, and ill or injured cows can be detected. Automatic milking removes the farmer from such close contact with the animal, so these illnesses may be noticed later than expected and both milk quality and cow welfare suffer.

·         Can be seen as animal abuse - High production levels are associated with more frequent milking, and thus with robotic milking. This can also be seen as animal abuse.



There are two major cattle-housing systems:

Loose housing

It is the system where animals are kept loose except milking and at the time of treatment. The system is most economical.

Stall Barn

Each animal is tied up in a stall for resting, feeding, milking, and watering.


Standard Plate Count or Plate Loop Count (PLC or SPC) is the measure of the total number of aerobic bacteria in the milk. The most common causes of a high PLC is dirty milking equipment, poor cooling, and poor udder preparation

Last modified: Sunday, 22 May 2016, 10:15 PM
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