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New producers sometimes find it hard to deal with dairy contractors because they are not familiar with the equipment used for milking. This section tells you what the equipment does and what it looks like. The examples are not meant to favor one company over another, but merely to give you an idea of what the article looks like. See the "Equipment Suppliers" list in the Reference section of this website for addresses, phone numbers and links to equipment suppliers.
A complete milking unit consists of:
the milk hose (clear),
the vacuum hose (black)
the milking cluster (claws, inflations, shells and small tubing.)
Milk hose (clear) carries the milk from the milking cluster to the pipeline. If they are getting rough inside and are collecting dirt, or are falling off the milking cluster or the pipes, then replace them. The hose should fit tightly. It is sold by the foot in farm supply stores.
Vacuum hose (black) controls the vacuum pressure from the vacuum line to the milking cluster. Again, it should fit tightly. If it starts falling off, replace it.
The milking cluster takes the milk from the teat end and transfers it to the milk hose and pipeline. It should have a shut-off valve which allows you to shut off one half if it gets done milking faster than the second half. You can buy a complete milking cluster (claws, shells, inflations), or buy the parts individually and put them together however you like. The milking cluster consists of 2 silicone inflations, 2 shells, 2 claws and all hoses. See the equipment supplier list in the Reference section.
Here are some examples of complete goat clusters:
Parts Dept) 62997 Silicone Goat Milking Cluster (2 sizes: Medium to Large does or Small to Medium Does--pygmy)
NuPulse Goat Cluster (They have several models.)
These are DeLaval clusters
Handyflow SAC (Denmark) http://www.sac.dk/getfile.php?objectid=713874
The following items are cluster components which are sold
individually and can be assembled as you like:
Milking claws come in many styles. Parts Department, NuPulse, DeLaval, Boumatic, Coburn, and many other companies carry them.
DeLaval type goat claw (Parts Dept.
Goat point claw (Parts Dept.)
Auto-valve claw (Parts Dept.)
Boumatic-style claw (Parts Depart.)
2) Liners (inflations)
Inflations expand and contract inside the shell
Hamby Dairy Supply
Figures that companies give on how long you can use an inflation before replacing them, are often based on milking cows, not goats. Goats are milked at a higher pulsation rate, so the inflations wear out faster. Be sure to ask the equipment supplier how often to change the inflations you are buying. If they don't know, find out who the manufacturer is and call them.
Parts Department recommends replacement of their goat silicone inflations at 2000 to 2500 milkings. We'll use that as an example.
How to figure out when to change inflations:
(1) How many goats are milked with one cluster, every time the stand fills with goats?
(2) How many times do you fill your stands during a milking?
(3) How many times do you milk a day?
Take the answer to number (1), times number (2), times number (3). Take that times 30 days in a month.
Take 2500 milkings per inflation, and divide by the number you got above. That will tell you how many months you can use a set of inflations before they have to be changed.
Example: You milk two goats with each cluster every time the stand fills with goats. You fill your stands with goats 4 times during a milking. You milk twice a day.
2 goats x 4 stand fills x 2 times/day milking x 30 days in a month= 480 times per month the inflations are used.
2500 milkings per inflation divided by 480 milkings per month= 5.2 months per inflation.
Make a note on your calendar when you buy inflations, and count ahead the right number of months and write yourself a note there too, to remind yourself to buy inflations next time, so you don't forget to change them. Bad inflations cause teat damage, which causes mastitis. Mastitis costs you money in lost milk production and lower milk checks. It makes good sense to buy new inflations on a regular basis. Remember to figure that into your budget.
6583 Plastic Goat Shell (Parts Dept. )
Milk meters measure the amount of milk given by each goat so you can keep records.
63486 Waikato Milk Meters for Goats (Parts Dept. )
Installation and maintenance manual for Waikato Milk Meter (540kb)
Power take-offs automatically remove the milking clusters when the goat is done milking, in order to avoid teat damage. Most people don't use them, simply because they are an additional expense, but they are available if you want them.
63449 Power take-off (Parts Dept.)
910055 Board for regulating power take-offs (Parts Dept.)
You will find an instruction manual for Waikato power take-offs at Waikato Take Off
CIP units wash the milk hose and clusters after milking, without having to drag them back to the milk room to hook them to the pipeline washer. It is highly recommended that you have these. It makes a huge difference when you are milking twice a day, 7 days a week, but especially during kidding season when you are exhausted.
Here are some examples:
CIP controller (DeLaval C125)
(Check with your equipment dealer to find a CIP unit compatible with goat equipment.
62630 Open cup design (Parts Dept) Fits Parts Dept's Goat Cluster
(Note: If you are using converted cow equipment you will need a specific cup for your brand of milking unit.)
Pulsators regulate the rate of milking pulsation. You
can buy individual pulsators, or you can buy a pulsator board, which helps to
stabilize vacuum pressure. See Milk Room setup below to get the rate to set it to.
Interpuls Pulsator Hoegger Supply
Super-puls II pulsator 47125 Schlueter Company
Pulsator board (for 12 or 16 units) Schlueter Company
Tells you what the vacuum pressure is. Check this every day while you're milking to be sure your pressure is adequate.
Foaming teat dip cup (Caprine Supply)
Foaming dippers save a huge amount of teat dip, which is quite expensive.
This is a homemade headstall unit. (See Plans section for pictures and measurements.)
Here's a goat Self-locking Feed-Through Panel (Made by a Wisconsin company) http://www.gardnerbarn.com/Goat.htm
See also DeLaval movable and fixed stalls for sheep and goats at http://www.delaval.com/Products/Sheep_goat/Milking_stalls/default.htm
Homemade Metal Milking Stand with 8 headstall units. (See diagrams with measurements at Stand, metal, herringbone or Stand, metal, parallel to get ideas for building your own stand.)(Red River Farm LLC)
See a single metal stand for medical treatments at http://www.lsuagcenter.com/NR/rdonlyres/8DE1D236-92CF-458F-9E4B-100E9B716861/16942/6399GoatMilkingStandMetal.pdf
For other plans, see Plans.
Some producers make a cement block base for the stand, then fill the holes in the blocks with cement. Then they cover that with plywood or metal and make a removable wooden box form on top that they fill with cement. After the top hardens, the wooden box form is removed.
Be aware that teat dip will stain the cement. Sometimes the cement also turns green. ( If anyone has more information on making cement goat milking stands, please send it to us. We would appreciate having photos that show the steps in building a stand with cement.)
Forms for planning your milking parlor are available at Milking Parlor Worksheet (PDF) and Building Record Sheet (PDF)
The stand arrangement tells you how the stands are arranged in the milking parlor space.
A milking parlor with one stand is called a “single.”
With two stands it’s called a “double.”
When a producer refers to his stand arrangement, he also adds a
number to the name, to say how many goats fit on each stand.
A “double twelve” is two stands, with 12 goats each, for a total
of 24 goats on the stands at one time.
A “single 24” is one stand which holds 24 goats. Either way, you can milk 24 goats in these parlors.
Below you will see how one producer uses her double twelve stands.
Note the sliding doors at the beginning of each stand.
She slides the door open, and lets the goats come in. (When goats are new to the farm, they are let in one at a time and are lead to the farthest stanchion. That way they are trained so everyone can get on the stand in an orderly manor at milking time. ) When the stand is full, she slides the door shut. Then she does the same thing for the other stand. She flips over the metal headstall lock on each goat so they stay in their place, then she milks.
When all of the goats are done milking, she slides open the large sliding door at the other end of the milking parlor. The goats jump down, using the jump down box, and then go out the door to the hay feeding area.
These stanchions in the hay feeding area are homemade using old pallet boards. See Plans page for more information on the stands and the hay stanchions. (Red River Farm LLC)
The stanchion arrangement tells you how the stanchions are arranged on the stand. From the diagrams below you can see know how the goats enter the stand, go into the stanchion and leave the stand for each type of arrangement:
Goat Dairy Library links to other information:
Figuring stand space (parallel stand)
Milking Parlor Worksheet
Plans for a metal milking stand, parallel arrangement.
Plans for a metal milking stand, herringbone arrangement.
(Note: = the milking pipeline)
Low line system This
is the best system for keeping a constant vacuum pressure.
Low line system
Mid line system This is commonly used in a flat barn (no
milking stand, no pit). Hard on the back!
High Line System ( 2 options: standard or swingline)
TIn a highline system, the pipeline is raised overhead on a metal rack. It cannot be suspended from the ceiling because if hay is stored in a loft above, the weight of the hay can change the slope of the pipeline.)
In the swingline system, milk lines drop from the center and swing between the two stands. You drop a milk line every other goat. Milk 2 goats on one side with that, then take it across to the other stand and milk 2 goats there. There is a potential for fluctuations in vacuum pressure, but in our experience it works well.
How to figure what size bulk tank to buy for your herd:
1) Take the maximum # of goats you could be milking* and multiply that by the average milk production per goat each day**).
___goats x ___lbs./ goat /day =_____ total pounds of milk produced/day.
2) Take that number and multiply by the number of days in your longest milk truck pickup period:
____lbs/day x ___days = ___pounds per pickup.
3) Divide that number by by 8 lbs./ gallon::
___lbs per pickup = _____ gallons / pickup
8 lbs per gallon
That is the minimum size tank you should buy: _____ gallon bulk tank
*(Make sure that you have carefully considered what your family can handle and how much building space you have available to house the milking does. Young stock, babies and bucks also need housing space and you need an area set aside as a sick room, milking parlor and milk room. See the “stocking rates” section below, and make sure you only measure OPEN space where a goat can stand. Also see “herd size” in the Quick Reference Guide.)
** An average milk production per day per goat is 5 lbs per day, but you should be looking for at least 8 lbs. per day for a commercial herd. (Coffee, Dairy Goats)
Example for new producers:
You want to buy the recommended minimum herd of 150 goats. You have a large barn that can house 150 milking does (see stocking rates below), and you have other buildings that will hold the young stock, bucks and babies. You know that you will not be able to milk any more goats than that because you can’t house any more. You plan to work full time in this operation and your wife plans to work outside the farm full time to pay the bills. She will only be able to give a few hours a week to the farm work. You are young and healthy and feel you can handle milking 150 goats, plus chores, along with birthing and other duties as they come along.
If you haven’t bought your herd yet, or you know where you will be buying your herd, but the herd owner doesn’t have a clue how much they give, then, how do you know how much milk you will have to store, and consequently, what size bulk tank to buy? In this case, you could start at the average amount of 5 lbs. of milk per day.
150 goats x 5 lbs. of milk/day/goat= 750 lbs. of milk per day.
Now consider that the route you want to get on only picks up the milk every fourth day, so you need to store four times the amount of milk they give per day.
4 x 750 = 3,000 lbs. of milk per milk pick up
Now divide 3,000 lbs for the total pickup period, by 8 lbs. of milk/gallon to find out how many gallons that is, because bulk tanks are sold by the gallon, not the pound.
3000 lb/pickup divided by 8 lb/gallon = 375 gallons per pickup.
You need a 400 gallon bulk tank to store up the amount of milk you have in one pickup.
But what if the milk truck can’t get through in a snowstorm, or what about holidays when the route drivers are not working? You may have to store the milk an extra day, so add a days worth of milk to your total pickup..
3000 lb. + 750 lb= 3750 lbs.
3750 lbs/pickup divided by 8 lb/gallon= 468.75 lbs. per pickup
Now you will need at least a 500 gallon tank to allow extra space for holidays and snow storms.
We don’t have any more space for milking does and the bank won’t loan us any more money to build another building, so we pretty much know we are probably not going to get much bigger than the original 150 goats. In this scenario, with average goats, we would simply buy a minimum 500 gallon tank, or maybe buy a 600 gallon bulk tank because we know that, with good management, we can get the milk production up a little.
What about the rich farmer who is buying a very high producing herd of 150 goats with DHI milk records showing an average of 10 lbs a day production per goat?
150 goats x 10 lbs./ goat /day= 1500 total pounds of milk produced/day.
1500 lbs/day x 5 day pickup (4 day pickup plus one day extra) = a potential of 7500 pounds per pickup.
7500 lb/pickup divided by 8 lb/gallon = 937.5 gallons of milk per pickup.
He would need to buy at least a 1000 gallon bulk tank.
To be safe when figuring bulk tank size, use the highest number of goats you REASONABLY think you might we able to milk in your existing buildings. It is important that you do not assume you will be building new buildings in a year or two unless your rich uncle is dying and you know ahead of time you are his sole heir. It takes years to understand how to increase your income in this business and you may not be making a profit for many years, especially if you have to get a large bank loan to open your business. Most goat milk producers have big plans at the beginning, but find they cannot afford to build new buildings, and end up with exactly as much space as they started with. Be reasonable in your expectations, because you have to pay for the electricity to cool that big tank no matter how much milk is in it. Ask other producers what size they use and how many goats they milk. Ask them whether they would still buy the same size. Learn from their mistakes. After you’ve moved a bulk tank into your milk room, you’ll never want to have to do it again.
Automatically washes the bulk tank
after pickups. The field man for Kolb-Lena cheese says that every
producer should have this in order to keep plate counts
Here are some examples of bulk tank washers:
The gallon capacity of the tank is roughly equal to the length of the tank in inches. For example: A 43" tank holds approximately 43 Gallons. These attach to the wall or are put on legs.
Length extends from 5" to 9"
Perfect for 8" concrete block.
The compressor cools the milk in the bulk tank. It
should have a timer on it so you can get the new milk cooled as fast as
The compressor creates a lot of heat, which can help heat the
milk room in the winter, but which must be excluded in the summer. You
can control this two ways. 1) the compressor cover, and 2) the compressor
The compressor is mounted through a hole in the wall, with a screen
on the outside of the hole. There is a panel that slides into
channels on the outside of that screen to seal the opening in the wall in the
winter. Remove that panel in the summer to let the heat out.
If you have an old compressor, it may not be enclosed. If so, you may need to build an airtight box around the compressor, inside the milk room. The box should be removable, or have a section that is removable, to allow the warm air to heat the milk room in the winter, and then close it off in the summer, so the heat stays outside.
Parts Dept.-DeLaval pump
Parts Dept-Surge pump
Milk pipe filters are put over the pipe that goes into the bulk tank. Their purpose is to filter out any debris in the milk before it is stored. They have to be stored in a box in order to pass inspection. Some people just keep them in the box they bought them in, but you can buy a metal box if you want to. Note: If you buy your milk socks from the guy who sets up your milk room, they sometimes will give you a milk sock box free of charge. If you switch brands of socks, make sure the box matches the size of the milk socks, as they come in different sizes
Milk filter box (Parts Dept.)
Paper towels must also be stored in a box in order to pass inspection.
Parts Dept. Paper Towel Holder
Doors must have a closing unit on them, so they automatically close when you enter or leave the room. the door must fit tight all the way around.
-Capacity of regulators (vacuum controllers) should equal the full capacity of the vacuum pumps at the operating vacuum.
-Normal loading of the system should not reduce the operating vacuum level more than 0.6 inches of mercury.
-Overshooting the vacuum set point after a major air influx should not exceed 0.25 inches.
-Install regulators on the mail supply line at or near the distribution tanks, or close to the sanitary trap, but not on the milk or pulsator lines.
-Follow manufacturer's recommendations. If none, use the following
-high line system 13-14 inches of mercury
-mid line system12 to 13.5 inches of mercury
Main vacuum line between the vacuum pump and the distribution tank:
On systems up to 50 CFM, and a maximum of 100 ft. long, use 2" lines.
On systems at 50 CFM, and less than 60 feet long, use 2" lines.
On systems of 50 to 125 CFM, regardless of length, use 3" lines.
On systems of 50 to 125 CFM, regardless of length, use 3" lines.
Note: Vacuum pumps must be adjusted for elevations over 1000 ft (305 meters) above sea level. Check with the pump manufacturer for exact changes. The adjustment factor is approximately 3% pe 1000 ft (305 meters).
-If the vacuum regulator is on the trapline, the size should be the same as that of the main vacuum line.
-If the pulsator is not on the trap line, then the trap line only needs to be large enough to carry the recommended effective reserve air flow:
-For effective reserve vacuum of up to 50 CFM, use 2" line.
-For effective reserve vacuum of at 50 CFM, and less than 60 feet long, use 2" lines.
-Should be 2" in diameter. If using more than 36 units, then use 3".
-The looped configuration is preferred, but if a single feed line is used, the header should be one size larger than the
pulsator line recommendation.
-Vacuum taps or stall cocks should be installed in the top half of the air or pulsation lines for complete drainage.
-Pulsation speed should be 60-90 PPM. (85 is used most often)
-Pulsation ratio should be 50-70% milk (60% is used most often)
-Pulsation line slope should be 1/2" per 10 ft. or more toward the distribution tank and in the direction of airflow from the milking units
|Number of milking units and amount of slope per 10 foot section of specific sized pipes:|
|Diameter of Pipe||Slope of Pipe every10 feet||Number of goats you can milk per 10 ft. of pipeline|
-Should be located 12" or less above the milk receiver, with sanitary piping sloping toward the trap
-Pipe should be sloped a minimum of 1" per 10 lineal feet
-Pipe diameter and slope determine how many goats you can milk per 10 feet of linear space
-For more units per slope use a 3" line.
-If you have several people milking, and they attach at a very rapid rate (greater than 1 every 15 seconds), less units per slope should be used.
-Estimated flow rate for goats: 4.5 lbs. per minute.
-Care must be taken to minimize air loss during attachment and removal
* Summarized from The Dairy Practices Council’s Guidelines
for The Design, Installation, and Cleaning of Small Ruminant Milking
Systems. You can order a copy of this
manual for about $7.00 by calling (732) 203-1947, or order on their website http://www.dairypc.org or at Dairy
Practices Council, 51 E. Front Street, Suite 2, Keyport, NJ 07735, phone/fax
732-203-1947, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you are building your own system, this manual is full of digrams and very specific information that you will need. If
you are having a dairy contractor build your system, you may want to
give him a copy of the manual to make sure he sets up a system that
will maximize your milk production and minimize teat injury. Many
dairy contractors buiild only cow
systems, and they may not realize that goat systems have to be set up
The milk truck has to back up to the hose chute area of the
milk room in order to run the milk hose into the milk room.
You must put in a thick cement slab, at least 4' x 4' in size,
directly below the hose chute. Keep this area free of snow and ice.
The driveway area and the area where the truck approaches and turns to
backup near the barn must be tarred, cemented or packed gravel.
It is a good idea to have a looped driveway, so the truck can get in without having to backup somewhere, especially when the ground is saturated with rain. If you do not have a looped driveway, make sure that you have provided a solid place for the truck to turn around, and space enough to do it easily.
Make sure there are no low-hanging electric wires in the area the truck has to pass through.
The driveway must be cleared of ice and snow by the time the truck arrives, or the truck will not come in. Remember how much milk your bulk tank can hold. If it is not large enough to hold all of the additional milk until the next pickup, your tank will overflow all over the milk room, so make sure that driveway is clear.
We have a tarred circular driveway, with a packed gravel approach to
the milk room area. You can see the cement slab below the hose chute
(just to the left of the back of the truck in the picture.) Within a
year, the weight of this truck totally demolished the edge of the
tarred driveway. It would have been nice to have a sloped section
of tar from the driveway to this packed dirt area to avoid this
damage.(Interview, M. Flores, 2007)