The purpose of milking machines is to harvest milk at an optimum speed while maintaining cow comfort and preserving teat functioning against mastitis pathogens. To achieve this, milking machine functioning should be optimal, units should be attached and detached timely, milk let-down should be proper, cows should be handled quietly, mastitis should be identified effectively and equipment cleaned efficiently in case of mastitis, units should be timely adjusted, and alignment should be proper. This implies that machine settings are critical, and therefore the purpose of the investigation by the authors cited was to review the various settings and combinations of milking machines; this to enable operators to optimize their use in order to preserve teat canal integrity and minimize mastitis.
The authors consulted all databases of Web of Science and other relevant websites to document machine settings and teat liners.
Results of the review showed that all vacuum levels in the system should be monitored and liners, milk yield and automated cluster removal switch-point settings need to be regarded as bearing a risk for teat damage. This, because they affect milking speed and vacuum levels at total, peak and over-milking. Therefore, an equilibrium should be found between optimal milking speed and risk of teat damage. It was demonstrated that increased switch-point setting shortens milking time and decreases over-milking and claw vacuum, thereby preserving teat-canal integrity. Using a VaDia instrument to analyse milk flow dynamics can assist in improving milking protocols and equipment functions that align with the physiology of the cow. Standards for switch-point settings of value to the operator were also identified.