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Flowing through the Milking Machine

The vacuum created in the teat cup by the milking machine, pulls the milk out, imitating the suckling action of a calf. Pulsator is used alternate pressure between the milk phase and the rest phase.

“Automation provides us with wondrous increases in production and information, but does it tell us what to do with the men the machines displace? Modern industry gives us the capacity for unparalleled wealth – but where is our capacity to make that wealth meaningful to the poor of every nation?

” –Robert Kennedy

Humans have always been looking for automated, efficient, and quick alternatives for arduous tasks. Comfort and efficiency have always been the key drivers of the business community.

This thrives for the alternatives that have caused humans too, to enhance their skills to operate these automated giants. We should create and rule them.

Treading these lines, humans created an automaton to work on our cows, to milk them, easily and, not to mention, quickly. And so was the ‘milking machine’ born.

The Milking Machine

It’s an amalgamation of various components; namely the cluster (attached to the cows’ teats), a milk tube, a pulse tube and pulsator, a vacuum pump or blower, and perhaps a recorder jar that measures yield; designed to handle as many as 200 cows an hour. Yes! 200 an hour! Human efforts would take hours on a stretch to complete that task.


The vacuum created in the teat cup, pulls the milk out, imitating the suckling action of a calf. Pulsator is used alternate pressure between the milk phase and the rest phase. During the milk phase, a vacuum is created and during the rest phase, because of the collapsing of the cup, the teats are massaged. The alternating process of milk-and-rest is continued in a rhythmic pattern for the cows’ health and good milk productivity.


Homosapiens are notorious characters. They can never sit still. They have this never-ending will of discovering new things and experimenting. There were various attempts and experiments on increasing the efficiency of the process of milking cows. Suction was first used for the mechanized harvesting of milk in 1851, but the results weren’t quite satisfactory. From drawing too much blood and body fluid, congestion within the teat to some fatal encounters, they included it all. To encourage further innovations offered money for a safe working milking machine.

Funded by the Royal Agricultural Society of England, in the 1890s Alexander Shiels of Glasgow, Scotland, developed a pulsator that alternated suction levels for proper blood circulation. Added to this the development of a double-chambered teacup in 1892, led to milking machines replacing hand milking. The domination of the machine was set in the industry only by 1920s’ and it continues to enjoy the place


Considering the dominance of the automaton in the dairy industry, it can be well imagined the efficiency with which it works offering great margins for profit.

  • Firstly they help in increasing dairy activities and managing a larger herd. With its speed and efficiency, it ensures superior milk quality and proper herd supervision.
  • Secondly, it allows the firm to cut on its labor costs. With a large firming, aiming to produce a good amount of milk for business purposes, it would require a large man force for doing the arduous task. And that too with a lower efficiency output and larger time input.
  • With the only skill required while working with the milking machine is to know how to operate it, the firm’s dependency on workers would reduce drastically, making it easier for a firm to find replacements in case of any withdrawal of service from the workers.
  • Finally, proper milking technique and routine will not only keep the cattle in pink of health but also ensure superior quality output.


One thing we must not forget is that machines are creations of the human, a specie full of the fault itself. So its discovery is sure to inherit some shortcomings too.

  • First is the adjustment of the cattle to the machine. With a cow used to being milked by hand, it can be a tough adjustment to shift onto the machine. But with newer cattle coming in, milked initially only with the machine, this problem could swipe away.
  • Next, due to the complete dependence of the automaton on the electrical supply, the working of the dairy can be hindered during electricity cuts or power blackouts. This obstruction can, however, be minimized with setting up of dairy in a low or no power cut area.
  • Not keeping the machines clean, or delay in cleaning processes can make the automaton a source of spread of infection, harming the cattle.
  • Lastly, if not used with proper care or if cattle are over milked, the results can be fatal.


As mentioned earlier, the notorious human will never settle. It challenges its creations leading into better models of the automatons it makes. Advances in technology have introduced several innovations to milking machines also.

  • Automatic detacher units allow cows to move and shift freely during milking. Advanced versions can also detect the end of milking, shutting the vacuum and removing the claw from the cow.
  • Automatic backflushing units can play a key role in reducing the risk of infection and mastitis by sending chemical and rinse solutions through various components of the machine.
  • Transponder cow neck-tags help farmers to keep track of milk production by individual cows.
  • Robotics soon will help the little manual labor oversee much of the milking process.

The machine, though an efficient alternative with proper installation and usage can be used to boost the firm profits exponentially. But this should at no cost harm the cattle or livestock. Hence proper care of both the herd and the machine is a must for the sustainability of the dairy industry.

Drishti Lakshita
While writing brings out a dormant side of me out, topics that challenge me, get me to research or are abstract that get my mind rolling are always an added cherry. Writing, i hope will help me in adding buckets full of knowledge into my life, currently surviving on few drops.


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