Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Add to My MSN

How to Use a Bucket Milker

8/5/2014 2:04:00 PM

Tags: bucket milkers, microdairy, Steven Judge, BobWhite Systems, Vermont

bucket milkerBucket milkers were the first mechanical milkers to be used successfully on cows. Two breakthrough discoveries that made the machines—which date back to the late 1800s—effective and safe for cows were the ability to make the milker pulsate in conjunction with a vacuum and the development of a two-part inflation to massage the cows' teats during milking. These developments were welcomed with glee by most dairy farmers. Even though newer and more efficient technologies have been developed since, bucket milkers are still used by many dairy farmers with a small herd (30 or fewer cows) with much success. Here are my best practices for using a bucket milker on a micro-dairy.

What is a bucket milker?

First things first, let’s get a clear understanding of what a bucket milker is. Most standard systems consist of a vacuum pump, a bucket and lid, a pulsator and a claw. The vacuum pump is connected to the bucket milker via a vacuum line. It’s job is to maintain a steady vacuum for the proper operation of the bucket milker. If the vacuum pump and regulator aren’t functioning properly, a cow’s teats can be injured. Most bucket milkers hold 4 to 8 gallons of milk from one, and sometimes two, cows before it must be emptied into a bulk tank to be stored and cooled.

How to use a bucket milker

Learning to operate a bucket milker is similar to learning to drive a car. There is a lot to learn up front, but it soon becomes a matter of habit. Eventually, you will operate the machine on autopilot.

Properly clean the cow and start her with your hands. Check out my last blog for tips on how to milk a cow by hand.
Hook the vacuum line to the vacuum port on the bucket milker and turn on the vacuum pump.
Place the bucket on the ground beside the cow next to her rib cage. This leaves you room to access her udder. 
Grab the claw and hold it under the udder with the milk hose pointed towards the front of the claw. Once you, the cow, the bucket and the claw are in position, open the vacuum to the claw and listen to make sure that the pulsator is clicking properly. bucket milker tubes
Put the inflations on the cow's teats one at a time starting with the teat farthest from you.
Make sure the claw hangs straight down from the udder. It cannot be twisted during milking. As you develop confidence with your milking skills, you may find that pulling the claw forward or otherwise adjusting its position on the cow will speed things up. This will take time and is not to be rushed.

Don’t Forget to Relax

As I always say, the most important thing is to relax so that you and your cow can enjoy the milking process. If your cow is not used to being machine milked, give her time to become acquainted with the sight and sound of the milker. If you’re doing things right, she’s not spending all day in front of machines. Move slowly and talk to her in soothing tones of voice. Most cows enjoy being milked. I have even had a few cows become so comfortable during milking that they lay down with the machine attached to their udder. It’s surely a comical sight—and not a problem just as long as the claw doesn't break.

Next up: Why Time is Money and the Value of Pipeline Milkers on a Micro Dairy.

.



Related Content

A Visit from the Honey Wagon

One of the realities of country life is having to get your septic tank pumped every few years.

How to Start & Manage a Micro Dairy – Step 3: Proper Handling of Cows

Step 3 of "How to Start & Manage a Micro Dairy in 26 Steps" will help you understand how to hand...

How to Start & Manage a Micro Dairy in 26 Steps: Step 1

Bob-White Systems is bringing the cows back home by providing supplies, equipment and support for Mi...

USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Website Launches

The USDA kicks off its Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative.

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 







Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.