Your milking machine will come in two boxes. The pump is in one box and the milk bucket and all other accessories will be in the other box.
When your milker arrives you can open both boxes, remove the milk bucket and pump and put the boxes aside. Now is a good time to put your milking machine together to see if it works. Returns are only allowed if the milker is unused and in resalable condition, so if you find you’ve changed your mind once you’ve set it up and done a dry run, it’s easiest to box it back up now and return it. Please contact me for returns.
I hope most people will end up keeping their milking machines as they are pretty handy to have around, so let’s get started putting one together.
Set Up your Milker
- Starting with the bucket portion. Remove and unwrap the lid and carefully removed and unwrap all accessories from inside the milk bucket. The accessories in your milk bucket will vary but if you ordered a complete milking machine you should have: a milk bucket, a lid with rubber gasket, a two-port pulsator, shells, inflations and associated tubing, stainless steel manifold with vacuum gauge and associated tubing. Once all that is unwrapped you can begin putting it together.
- First get your bucket lid and place it on the bucket opening. Press down and it should seat firmly and evenly, you may have to adjust pushing one side or the other.
- Next get your pulsator and with the metal portion facing up, the central opening facing down, press the central opening over the central stem in the milk bucket lid. You don’t need to push too hard, it will seem like it’s not fitting but if you push it down a bit and let go, you’ll find that it is a very snug fit.
- Now you can get your milk cluster (the shells, inflations and tubing) and start connecting the tubing to the milk bucket. Take the largest tube, this is the milk tube, and connect it to the port to the right of the pulsator, if the front of the pulsator is facing you. The tubing should slide over easily.
- You can then get the two small clear air tubes and connect each one of them to the ports coming out of the front of the pulsator. Push them up onto each port, as far as you can so they are snug. Goat milkers may only need one tube, the other port on the pulsator should be plugged, in this case.
- The milk bucket should be all set up now. You can move on the pump. First get the manifold and screw it into the IN port on the right side of the pump, if the front of the pump is facing you. The IN and OUT are marked on the front of the pump. Then get the small brass thimble-looking muffler and screw that into the OUT port on the left side of the pump. The ports are clearly labeled IN and OUT on the front of the pump, so they should be easy to distinguish.
- Get your vacuum tubing, push the larger clear end over the port coming out of the left side of the milk bucket lid, and push the smaller braided tubing side over the end of the barb on the manifold which is now attached to the pump. Now your milking machine is fully assembled. Time to try it out!
- You should run your milking machine at about 12 or 13 in Hg for the safety of your animals. You can adjust the level of vacuum by loosening on tightening the threads of the regulator. It may take some time to get it right but once you find the right spot, you can lock it with the ring on the regulator. The regulator may need minor adjustments over time.
- Connect the extension cord with on/off switch the plug of the pump. Now you can plug in the pump and it will run. It should run smoothly, there should be no smoke and the pump will get warm in the front as it runs.
- Now that the pump is on and creating vacuum, you are almost ready to milk, or at least do a dry run. Note that the pump will not pulsate if you do not have the ends of the shells covered. You must cover them up with the black rubber pluggits that are attached to each shell so vacuum can build up. The pulsator needs a certain level of vacuum to pulsate or it will not run. When you are actually milking, the shells must make a good seal over the teats to make and keep vacuum. So be aware of that, as well.
How to Set the Regulator:
The regulator is basically setup like a dog whistle.
There are 3 pieces to it. The bottom with rubber on the threads, screws directly into the manifold.
The long top part can be loosened or tightened to make the regulator longer or shorter. This is how you adjust the vacuum level.
The small ring is used to lock the regulator to the level of vacuum you want, so once your adjust the top portion and reach the vacuum level you want on the gauge. Screw the small ring down until it’s tight and that will lock that setting in.
Hook up the machine as if you were going to milk. Cap the ends of the teat cups with the black rubber pluggits so it is a closed system. Adjust the regulator until you reach the proper level and then lock it in with the small ring.
You want the gauge to read somewhere between 10-15 inHg. I usually shoot for 12-13 inHg. On your gauge, you are setting it to the numbers on the left side, that’s the vacuum side.
The HEPA Filter (That black canister):
Many of the used Welch 2858b-01 pumps that i am currently selling, come with a HEPA filter. This filter is not required for you to run the machine. If you've recieved one, it will come wrapped separately and not attached to teh manifold. If you'd like to use it, remove the metal hose barb from the manifold and screw the HEPA filter into its place, then attach the hose to the white plastic hose barb on the HEPA filter.
A few tips for using your milking machine:
-Always strip your animal’s teats a few times before you apply the shells. A plug usually forms in the end of the teats if it has been a while between milking, so you want to get that out. If you put the teats in the shells without stripping them first, the suction may work on the teats but no milk will come out and the pressure could damage the teats. So make sure the teats are unblocked and there is a steady flow before applying the shells when the machine is running.
-Massage the udder every so often to keep the milk flowing. If you see the flow slow down or stop, massage the udder and you should see the milk begin to flow again unless the udder is almost empty.
-Milking a goat or sheep usually won’t take longer than 10 minutes depending on breed and how much milk they have. It’s often less than that, so don’t leave the machine running on them for too long.Don't over milk the udder with the machine.
-The machine will not get every last drop of milk out of your animal’s udder so once her udder is almost empty and no more milk is flowing, you must remove the shells and strip her udder until she is empty. You should only have to do this a few times pet teat. Doing this helps keep production levels up because any milk left in the udder, tells her that she needs to make that much less next time around. So don’t let her get lazy.
-Always wash your machine after every milking. A daily washing can be performed by just running a dilute bleach solution or whatever milk equipment cleaning solution you have through the milker, running the milker just as if you were milking so the cleaning solution hits all those same spots as the milker did when it was running through the lines. In order to do this, once you finish milking you will store you milk and reassemble the dirty milker as if you were going to milk again. You will then run the milker and run the water through the lines. Doing a rinse 3 times with water, dilute cleaning solution and water again is a popular method. Then wash your inside lid and bucket. Remove gasket under the lid to clean this as well. Then allow everything to dry thoroughly. Dissembling the parts of the milk lines or removing bottom vales on goat milkers, may help them dry faster.
A more thorough cleaning should be performed on a regular basis. This requires dismantling the tubing and plastic parts for a deeper cleaning. Soaking them in a sanitizing solution is also recommended. To clean the bottom valves, depending on the model, you will carefully unscrew the valves and either rinse or soak and rinse, being sure not to lose any parts inside the valve. The time interval between quick cleaning and deep cleaning is up to you. I would recommend that those drinking raw milk, do a thorough cleaning more often than those who pasteurize. You’ll know you need a more thorough cleaning if your milk begins spoiling faster in the fridge.
Quick Step-by-Step for using a Milking Machine
1. Clean the Udder
2. Hand milk each teat a couple times to make sure there are no plugs. Bump the udder a bit to encourage her to let down.
3. Turn on assembled milker, make sure all connections are secure and you are not losing vacuum.
4. Either turn knob on claw to pull plunger down and build vacuum or use pluggits to cap teat cups to build vacuum.
5. Make sure vacuum gauge reads between 10 and 13” Hg. This is the safe level for milking.
Decrease Vacuum Level: Loosen the ring and unscrew the outer portion to decrease the vacuum level, then tighten the ring to lock in that setting.
Increase Vacuum Level: Loosen the ring and screw in the outer part to increase vacuum level, then tighten the ring to lock in that setting.
You can also use the blue handle ball valve at the base of the manifold to decrease airflow and vacuum.. This is recommended when using the Gast pump.
6. Once the pulsator starts clicking, you have built up enough vacuum to begin milking.
7. Place each cup over each teat. Do this quickly in order to maintain vacuum. If using pluggits, unplug one at a time and secure to each teat. If using the claw, push the plunger back up and quickly secure both cups onto both teats.
8. Once teat cups are attached and pulsator is clicking milk should start flowing into the teat cups, through the tubing and into the bucket. Make sure milk is flowing and the teat itself, is not plugged.
9. You may need to bump the udder occasionally in order to encourage her to keep letting milk down.
10. Time of milk out varies but it should not take longer than 15-20 minutes for a goat or sheep, if the animal has a full udder. Less milk should equal less milking time. It may only take a few minutes if their udder is not full. Don’t leave teat cups on for too long without milk flowing, or you could damage the teats.
11. Milking machines do not get 100% of the milk out of the udder, so you will have to strip at the end of milking. You can do this by milking the teats directly into the teat cups, the vacuum will pull the milk into the bucket. You should only need to milk each teat a few times, otherwise you’ve taken the cups off too soon.
12. Once milking is complete, transfer your milk to another container, reassemble the milker including the pump and then clean by drawing up warm water and a dilute bleach solution or sanitizer of your choice. Do a final rinse with just warm water. Cold water can also be used.
13. Allow all the parts to dry thoroughly before the next milking.
14. Do a more thorough cleaning once a week or more often if it is needed. If your milk is going sour quickly, you need to do a thorough cleaning more often or one part of your milker is harboring bacteria and needs a thorough cleaning.
15. Enjoy your milk!
See Video below for an explanation of the milkers parts and how it works. Video is slightly outdated as materials have changed and some come standard now but it still gives a good overview of how the milking machine works.