Introduce machine milking gradually by following the steps. Start by training the workforce in the procedures, milking routine, handling, cleaning and maintenance of the machine.
- Install the milking machine and modify the shed well in advance.
- From the onset be consistent with respect to the milking routine. The regular milker should carry out the machine milking during the introduction period.
- Stay with the cow to see that she is comfortable when the teat-cups are attached to the udder. Calm the cows by soft talking and massaging. The first sessions are usually more difficult but this improves with time.
- Start with heifers because they are easier to train than older cows. Older cows that have been hand milked may take time or respond negatively to a change in routine. Do not hand milk heifers and instead introduce them directly to the machine so as to get accustomed to the noise of the vacuum pump.
- Select older cows that are calm and comfortable with hand milking. Look for those with uniform udders and teats in terms of conformation and size. Do not select unhealthy cows, those in heat or those with previous milking problems.
- Bring the milking machines into the shed and let the machines run as you hand milk the selected cows. Give the cows a chance to look at the machines, smell and even taste them. This familiarizes the cows to the machines being moved around. Do this until the cows have accepted the presence of the machines.
- Repeat these steps to cows that still show signs of nervousness or stress. Some frightened or uncomfortable cows might cause major disturbances in the whole herd. Revert to hand milking those cows that have not accepted to be milked by machines after this procedure.
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