The story of the tortoise and the hare is one most of us have heard. The obviously faster rabbit enters into the race with the clearly handicapped tortoise only to lose due to loss of focus and consistency.
As simple as the story and its moral is, it truly applies to some of the most difficult systems/businesses we can encounter. How on earth does it apply to milking?
Quite simply we are moving a fluid, milk, from a collection point, the claw, to the milk line. In the milk line the vacuum is usually quite constant; in the claw we would like it to be the same. Unfortunately, if we try to move the fluid inconsistently we deliver a vacuum equally inconsistent. Many things have been tried to eliminate this inconsistency, larger outlets, larger tubing, larger bowls, even limiting entrance to the outlet, are all strategies that have been applied with varying success. Add to this the fact that all cows don’t milk at the same speed, and you have a situation filled with inconsistencies. The goal then becomes to design the equipment to accommodate the highest irregularity possible, while fitting inside the physical and monetary constraints. In the laboratory consistent flow can be delivered and relatively stable vacuums can be demonstrated.
What can be done on the farm?
1. Eliminate restrictions, hose pinching and flattening restricts and delivers below designed performance.
2. Eliminate unnecessary loops and excess hose, things that require energy to overcome and cause fluctuations to increase as flow rates increase.
3. Properly align and adjust units to deliver even milk outs and evenly distributed weight to eliminate slips and squawks.
4. Deliver as consistent as possible flow by only attaching units to properly stimulated teats that produce as high and consistent of flow as possible.
In the fairy tale slow and steady wins the race, as simple as it seemed the first time I heard the story many years ago it is still a truth worth heading when it comes to dealing with dairy cattle and the harvesting of milk.