18 Useful and Effective Milking Practices You Need To Know


Drawing and implementing a feeding management program and prior knowledge of animal husbandry information for lactating dairy cows is imperative for optimal milk production and overall animal health. Particular care with hygiene and feed must be taken during the period of early lactation until first few days post calving. Here are the good practices for milking dairy animals.

  1. Cows and buffalos should be milked away from their housing shed, preferably in a separate milking barn or stable, for clean and efficient milking. Small dairy farmers who cannot set up a separate byre should milk the animals in a place other than the feeding site. The location must be clean, dry, free of flies, etc.
  2. There are four different types of milking parlors—flat, tandem, herringbone, and rotary. The flat parlor is economical to build and suitable for small dairy farmers but demands more time and labour.
  3. The tandem type doesn’t require much labour but is not as automated as the herringbone parlor.
  4. The herringbone parlor is apt for medium to large dairy farmers. It is highly automated and available in different variants. The rotary dairy parlor is suitable for those commercial dairy farms who own large dairy farms and can afford its skyrocketing cost and complexity.
  5. The milkers must sanitize and dry their hands and wear clean clothes before stepping into the milking parlor. It is to maintain a hygienic environment while milking and prevent any contagion of the cow and milking machine (or hands). Also, the hands must be thoroughly washed and disinfected after administering a likely infected cow or its environment.
  6. When milking animals using hands, the milker should use ‘full hand’ method instead of ‘knuckling’, which may cause pain and damage to the teats.
  7. As the rear part of the udder contains more milk, it should be milked first. And, the bucket or vessel used for collecting milk should be narrow-mouthed to diminish the chances of dust or udder hair contamination.
  8. The milking barn should be cleaned with fresh water and sanitized with a disinfectant solution after every milking session. Ensure that the milking parlor is dry before next milking. It should constitute a continuous supply of fresh water, space for ventilation and enough passage for light.
  9. Cows or buffalos must be washed with clean water before every milking session to reduce the probability of bacterial contamination and udder infection. Let the water drain off the animals entirely until they are dry before milking. Water dripping off the udder increases the chances of passing harmful bacteria to the milk as well as the udder through teats causing illness, which is undesirable.
  10. Dirty udders must be cleaned with fresh water or wiped off using paper clothes/towels dipped in a disinfectant solution. Maintain a separate and clean cloth for each animal and after every milking session, wash the clothes and hang them up to dry. Alternatively, you can use disposable paper clothes which are comparatively effective for drying the animals after washing.
  11. Remove first two streams of milk from all the teats into a strip cup and discard it. The first milk drawn from the cow’s udder is called Foremilk which contains a higher amount of leukocytes and bacteria than the Hindmilk which is high in fat and protein content. Besides, removal of foremilk helps you assess abnormal milk. Poor quality milk shows signs of flakes, blood strings, or other factors of abnormality that indicate mastitis and incompetency to be consumed.
  12. Milking machines, cans, and buckets must be regularly washed with clean water, dried and sanitized after every milking session so that they’re clean and ready to use before next milking begins. Standard practices for the exposure time of sanitizers, detergents, and concentrates should be followed as outlined in the guidelines by the manufacturers.
  13. Three-quarters of each teat must be pre-dipped in a sterile solution like 0.5% iodine for 30 seconds before milking, which ensures decontamination and improved milk quality. Later, dry the teats using a disposable paper towel or a cloth, especially a teat ends.
  14. Natural oxytocin in milk is released shortly after the foremilk is removed, which takes 30 seconds. However, oxytocin is short-lived, therefore, to attain maximum oxytocin release, the milking machine should be attached to the teats within 60 seconds of udder wash. Injecting hormone oxytocin to stimulate milk flow should be avoided.
  15. Once the teat cups of the milking machine unit are attached to the teats of the cow, keep a close watch until milk flow ceases to prevent over-milking, hence, teat scuff causing teat infection and mastitis. Detach the milking unit from the cow for complete milk removal post milking.
  16. Make sure that the vacuum pressure in the milking machine unit remains consistent with no fluxes. The effective vacuum pressure range for crossbred buffalos should be between 400 and 420 mm of Hg and for cows between 360 and 381 mm of HG.
  17. First, shut off the vacuum and then gently detach the teat cups of milking unit from the teats when the milking is done. Never pull off the milking machine while the vacuum is still on as it damages the teats and udder.
  18. Post milking, the lower quarter of all the teats must be dipped in a teat antiseptic solution to control mastitis. The sterile solution removes any milk residues left or spread over the teats after milking, thereby, decreasing the odds of bacterial growth or new infections.
  19. If the milk is to be stored on the farm for a more extended period, it must be cooled up to 5°C or less within the first 60 minutes of milking and later storing it at 4°C to 5°C. It is vital to keep the milk cool at a low temperature as the environmental conditions can deteriorate the milk quality and snatch away its essential nutrients.


Milking is as crucial as other activities in dairy farming. Milk, being an essential part of the global food system plays a critical role in the sustainability of the rural areas and the dairy industry. The comfort of the dairy animals is vital to achieve good quality milk. Hence, proper care and management of dairy animals keep them in production and good shape for a long time while maintaining stable economic growth.

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