Air admission hole

Hole in cluster to admit air.



Microscopic sacs lined by a single layer of milk-secreting cells. Many millions of alveoli, grouped into lobules and lobes, make up the secretory tissue of the mammary gland.



Sanitizing agents which lead to antimicrobial activity include liquid sodium hypochlorite and iodines.


Atmosphoric pressure

Vacuum pumps remove air and the result is a pressure within the system less than atmospheric, called vacuum. Vacuum levels are measured in inches of mercury (Hg) or in kilopascals (kPa), not in pounds or in square inch.


Blind quarter

Udder quarter that does not produce milkBlind quarter: Udder quarter that does not produce milk.


Bulk milk cell count (BMCC)

Measure of somatic cells in the farm’s bulk milk.


Bulk milk tank (BMT)

Tank that holds milk. Called milk vat.


Breeding worth (BW)

Measure of genetic merit of an individual animal.



The presence of the calf and its "bunting" of the udder stimulates milk let-down. As a calf nurses a cow, it does not  clamp off the base of the teat nor put much pressure on the walls of the teat. But as the calf sucks, a negative pressure is produced  in the mouth. The pressure within the udder, created by atmospheric pressure  and by milk letdown is greater than the area of negative pressure within the calf's mouth. The resistance of the teat sphincter is overcome and the milk flows rapidly into the calf's mouth (the area of reduced pressure).



The milking claw connects and supports the four shells and inflations and serves as a collection site for the milk from the four quarters. The "tail piece" of the inflation carries the milk from the teat end into the claw (it’s also called the short milk tube).


Claw Size

The claw should be of adequate size to avoid flooding. Most claws admit air through a small hole in the claw to aid milk flow. Claws should not have filters in them. Be sure the ferrules (tubes where the liners are attached to the claw) are not bent or damaged as this will block milk flow, slow milking and cause teat irritation.  


Clinical mastitis

Clinical mastitis causes adnormal milk (flakes, clots, watery) and symptoms in the cow such as fever, loss of appetite, and dehydration. Clinical mastitis is caused by four categories of bacteria: 1) Streptococcus agalactiae; 2) Staphylococcus aureus; 3) Strep species; 4) Coliforms (E. coli, Klebsiella, Enterobacteria).


Cold chain

The infrastructure to assure that the milk never leaves a refrigerated environment on the farm, at the collection center, during transportation or at the processing plant.



The first milk produced after calving, which has a significantly different composition and texture from normal milk. Colostrum is rich in antibodies, which can protect the calf from disease in early life.


Cup remover

Device to remove cups from cow when milking is completed.


Diagram of Controller

The controller allows air to enter the line, as needed. Or, it closes down to exclude excess air in order to maintain a specific vacuum level. A controller that is too small or partially plugged may result in an excessively high vacuum level, which could cause damage to the teats.



Tubes that hang down from milk line to carry milk or pulsation tubes.


Fatty acid (saturated, unsaturated):

A chain of carbon terminated by an acid carboxyl group (COOH). Fatty acids with less than 4 carbons are volatile; fatty acids with 5-20 carbons are found as fats and oils. The degree to which they are able to bind hydrogen ions determines the physical characteristics; hydrogen unsaturated acids are more likely to be liquid oils than hydrogen saturated fatty acids.



Device to remove main soil from milk.


Filter element

The paper or cloth liner inside the filter to collect the soil.



Milk which must be stripped before milking to ensure no contamination.


Genetic selection

The process of selection of superior individuals in a herd for breeding to enhance
the performance of future generations.



Acid anionic sanitizers (with high surface activity and low pH) promote germicidal (the killing of germs) activity


Hand Milking

During hand milking of a cow, manual cleaning & massage of the  udder stimulates milk let-down. The teat is closed at the base of the  udder and then manual pressure is applied to the teat to force the trapped milk out of the teat opening. Hand milking is dependent on  increased pressure within the teat to overcome the  resistance of  the teat sphincter. 


Herd testing

Official sampling the milk from each cow for recording purposes.



Flexible rubber or silicone part that fits inside teat cup shell.


Herringbone parlours

Are designed to make the milker's working procedure safe and efficient. You can choose either side or back leg milking. Herringbone also means batch milking, enabling a continuous flow of cows in and out of the parlour. An important advantage of Herringbone parlours is their suitability for larger herds. The system can be easily extended.



Vessel on main airline to prevent liquid or foreign matter getting into vacuum pump.



Device that connects to cups for flushing (washing).


Lactation worth (LW)

Measure of the genetic merit of an individual animal.


Let down

Release of milk from udder caused by hormone oxytocin.



Lethargic cows are those that enter the barn first; hang back in the holding area; and droop their ears. Such cows may be ill and require attention.



Flexible rubber or silicone part that fits inside teat cup shell.


Linear score

The method of recording somatic cell counts as a decimal from 1 to 10. 



Fat or fat-like substances that, as a nutritional energy source, contain 2.25 times as much energy as carbohydrates.


Long milk hose

The long milk hose carries milk from the claw to the milk line. Be sure the long milk hose is in good condition, does not leak, is not too long and does not contain a filter. Avoid loops in this line that may cause a "backup" of milk & flood the claw.  


Long pulse tube (dropper)

Connecting tube between tube and pulsator.


Machine stripping

Downward pressure on the claw and messaging each quarter to remove stripping milk in postmilking stage. This should only be done with "problem" cows. Machine stripping can cause liner slips and the spread of mastitis.


Massage (rest) phase

During the massage (or rest) phase, air at normal atmospheric pressure enters between the shell and inflation. Due to the partial vacuum inside the inflation, the inflation collapses around the teat. The pressure of the collapsed inflation helps massage the teat end, preventing congestion of blood and body fluids in the teat skin and tissue.  



A bacterial infection (in most cases) which causes inflammation (swelling, redness, pain) of the mammary gland.


Midline milking systems

Have one cluster in the middle of the pit, serving both sides of the parlour. Compared to a double milking unit, the throughput per cluster is significantly higher. Stall work is of the herringbone type, and you have the option of the no frills Slim type of parlour.


Milk contact surface

Surface in direct contact with milk.


Milk fat

Fat portion of raw milk.


Milk flow indicator

Device to show milk flow leaving the cluster.


Milk letdown

The initial release of milk from the udders during teat preparation.


Milk line

The milk line receives milk through the long milk hose and carries it to the receiver jar. "Low- lines" are located lower than udder level and "high lines" are located higher than udder level. Low-lines result in less claw and hose flooding during peak milk flow and also reduce vacuum fluctuation


Milk line function

The milk line must transport milk (allow the milk to flow in it) and also provide room for air to move above the milk.  


Milk line size

The milk line should be of adequate size for the number of milking units used. Milk lines are made of glass or stainless steel. Stainless steel is preferred because of its durability. Most stainless steel lines are welded on site and joined at some connections with clamps and gaskets 


Milk line slope

Adequate slope in the milk line throughout the system is essential for the proper flow of milk. Flat spots will cause flooding of the line and vacuum fluctuations


Milk meter

Device to measure milk yield and allow a sample to be taken for testing.


Milk protein

Proteins in milk – albumin, globulin and casein.


Milk pump

The milk pump turns on when milk reaches a certain  level in the receiver jar. It pumps milk through another milk line into the bulk tank. This is a separate small pump which pumps milk and is unrelated to the vacuum pump, which pumps air. Be sure the lines and valves are properly set prior to milking to deliver the milk from the receiver jar to the bulk tank.  


Milking machine

Device to enable milk to be drawn from a cow. Includes vacuum and pulsation system, clusters and other components.


Milking phase

During the milking phase, the space between the inflation and shell and the space inside the inflation have the same partial vacuum. This causes the inflation to open and milk to flow  from the teat because the pressure is lower outside the teat end.


Milking ratio

Percentage of the pulsation cycle during milk flow from the teat.


Milking robot

Machine which allows cows free access to be milked automatically when they choose.



A hormone released under the influence of the anterior pituitary that produces contraction of
the myoepithelial cells to expel milk and acts on smooth muscle in the uterus at calving.


Parallel parlours

Provide for fast entrance and exit of cows, and the milking procedure is made more efficient due to a shorter walking distance for the milker between cows. The cows are milked from behind, giving the operator easy access and a perfect view of the udder. The indexing system can be used to bring cows closer to the pit edge, and thereby an optimum milking position.


Parturient paresis

Muscle weakness caused by an imbalance of calcium in the blood, seen in the
cow shortly after birth of the calf when the body has not adapted to the new demand on calcium
metabolism caused by lactation. Also known as Milk Fever.



The process of heating milk to a precise temperature for a timed period to kill
bacteria. Pasteurization does not kill bacterial spores so does not sterilize milk.


Plate cooler

Device made of plates through which water and milk flow separately so water removes heat from the milk. Heat exchanger.



Includes machine removal and teat dip.



Before milking, foremilk stripping and teat preparation must be done. Teats (only, not udders) must be cleaned and dried before milking.



A hormone produced in the anterior pituitary gland that is a key messenger in the start of parturition.


Pulsation ratio

The ratio of time the inflation is in the milking phase compared to the time it is in the massage (rest) phase is called the PULSATION RATIO (or milk to rest ratio). Ratios vary by manufacturer, from 50:50 to about 70:30. Cows will usually milk slightly faster with a wider ratio, such as 70:30. However, the longer milk phase and shorter rest phase may cause teat end trauma and damage if the milking equipment is not working properly and if good milking practices are not followed. Ratios near 60:40 are less likely to contribute to problem situations.


Pulsation system

The pulsation system allows the inflation (shell liner) to close and apply pressure to the teat end. It does this by allowing atmospheric air to enter between the shell and the inflation. The purpose is to massage the teat end and force tissue fluids back out of the teat end.



The function of the pulsator is to allow intermittent massage of the teat end to prevent swelling. It does this by alternating between a partial vacuum (milking phase) and atmospheric air pressure (massage phase). Some systems require that a specific side of the pulsator be attached to the teat cups for the rear quarters. For these systems, be sure the hoses are connected correctly. 


Receiver jar

Milk flows by gravity through the milk line and into the receiver jar. The receiver jar serves as a small holding reservoir until the milk can be pumped into the bulk tank for cooling and storage. The valve between the receiving jar and the milk pump should not admit air. If a bubbling action occurs in the receiver jar, air is leaking past the valve and it should be corrected or replaced. 



Mechanism that removes milk from under vacuum and discharges it to atmospheric pressure.


Reverse-flow cleaning

System where cleaning fluids are pumped through the plant under positive pressure in the reverse direction to normal milk flow.


Rotary parlours

Are for milk producers who require high throughput performance. At the same time, they generate very good working conditions. Working conditions are comfortable, as the cows move, rather than the operator.


Sanitary trap

A sanitary trap, required by health codes, separates the milk (sanitary) and non-milk (non-sanitary) portions of the system to prevent carry-over of liquids and cross-contamination



Equipment should be sanitized between milking with liquid sodium hypocholorite, chlorine bearing compounds, iodine solutions, or acid anionic sanitizers.


Short milk tube

Connects the liner with the claw.


Short pulse tube

Connects pulsation chamber with the claw.


Somatic cells

Cells found in milk originating from the cow's body. They include a mixture of secretory cells, which have sloughed off, and white blood cells.



A muscular ring that closes off a body cavity.



Washing or massaging the cow’s udder to encourage milk letdown.



The removal of small amounts of milk from each teat before actual milking (premilking stage).


Supernumary teat

A small extra teat that usually does not produce milk.


Suspensory ligaments

Tough connective tissue with a high collagen content that serves as the support system for the udder.


Tandem parlours

Provide for side milking. The cows stand in separate stalls along the pit, enabling the milker to give individual cows attention whilst maintaining an excellent overview of the parlour. Health problems and breeding status are easily identifiable and the system is known for calm, relaxed cows. Electronically controlled Tandem parlours are automatically filled with a new cow as soon as one has been milked.


Teat cup

Part of milking machine made up of the shell, short pulse tube and liner.


Teat dip

After each milking, teats must be dipped in teat dip to avoid the spread of mastitis!!


Teatcup liners

Essential characteristics of teat cup liners should include: rapid and complete milking, sufficient barrel length so it will collapse below teat end, minimize liner slippage and unit fall off by remaining secure on the teat, and minimal teat tissue damage.


Teat cup shell and Teat cup liner (Inflation)

Form a vacuum chamber which allows milk to be removed from the teat and also provides massage of the teat end. The size inflation used should correspond to the shell size. Most companies recommend the use of narrow bore liners (3/4 inch or less in internal diameter). These have less tendency to creep up the teats and shut off milk flow from the udder into the teats


Teat spray

Sanitiser sprayed on the teat orifice after milking to reduce mastitis.


Twisted inflation

It is essential that inflations be installed properly and in the correct shell. Twisting will prevent normal function. Some inflations are square, others have ribbed sides or special tops. Some admit air into the tailpiece of the liner and are called a vented inflation. This is done to avoid flooding with milk. Most manufacturers control claw 
flooding by admitting air into the claw.



The cow’s milk gland made up of four quarters each with a teat. 



The assembly of teat cups and ancillary equipment used to milk the cows.


Vacuum balance tanks

The vacuum balance tank is also referred to as a vacuum reserve, air distribution, or a header tank. It serves as the point of entry for header pipes so serves as a distribution tank. Its content volume has a cushioning effect on the vacuum level when small amounts of air are admitted into the system; so it is a balance or cushion tank.


Vacuum pump

Pump that generates the vacuum to work the milking machine.


Vacuum regulator

Automatic valve that keeps a steady vacuum level.


Vacuum tank

Same as regulator.


Vacuum tap

Clamp tap or cutoff valve on long milk tube.


Vacuum tube

Connecting tube between receiver and airline.



Holding tank for milk. 

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Did you know that:

While milk is being squeezed from the cow's udders, it leaves the cow's body at a high temperature of 38 °C (101 °F). Then the milk is quickly cooled and stored at (40 °F).


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