Blog Post 26

Vacuum and Pulsation: what could happen if we don’t ally with them? - Part 1

In the previous issue we highlighted the value of a reliable vacuum and pulsation system for smooth and stable milk extraction. In the next two blog episodes, we will investigate the possible implications that incorrect vacuum pulsation can have upon an animals’ well-being and milking performance. 

If you have already been implementing the procedures we advised on the previous episodeor you decided to start following our tips after discovering themyou are on the right track. 

If, instead, you missed the insight provided by our experts, be careful! Incorrect vacuum pulsation could undermine your milking systems functionality, leading to major consequences for your animals, your milking performance, and your milk quality, as demonstrated by the following cases. 

Vacuum drops and irregular vacuum fluctuations 

During milk extraction, teat-end vacuum undergoes many changes, which determine cyclic vacuum fluctuations, vital for a smooth process and for preserving teat health.


Figure 1 - Correct pulsation cycle with regular vacuum changes. 
Source: milkrite | InterPuls internal training material 

However, for reasons such as: an inappropriate capacity of the vacuum pump, a small diameter of vacuum lines or perhaps inadequate milking components, some undesired changes in vacuum may occur, as our expert Filippo Lusetti highlights: 

If vacuum reserve in the pump is not sufficient, the system may not be able to face sudden vacuum drops or fluctuations, due to falling clusters or a malfunctioning shut-off valve. 

Hence, vacuum would be dramatically reduced, and milking performance would worsen, causing stress to the animals. 

Lower vacuum determines lower peak milk flow rate, longer milking on-time and higher stripping, facilitating bacteria to enter the mammary system. More specifically, a dramatic vacuum drop could provoke the flooding of the liner, followed by the reflux of milk from the teat into the gland cistern. Depending on capacity and flow characteristics of the claw, bacteria might also spread from an infected quarter to uninfected ones. 

As described above, the main undesired vacuum changes are: 

  • Drops in vacuum. Which can occur as the milk flow starts to be transported through milk tubes. Factors that could increase the drop of teat-end vacuum are high milk flows, especially in highline milk transport systems when incorrectly setup, and insufficient or blocked air inlets in the claw. 
  • Irregular vacuum fluctuations. These consist of an excessive decline and consequent recovery of vacuum levels within a milking unit, due to a liner slip or cluster fall, which provoke unexpected air entrance into the vacuum system. 

Some factors that worsen irregular vacuum fluctuations could be: 

  1. High milk flow rate at the occurrence. 
  2. Large quantity and position of sudden air admitted. 
  3. Obstruction to air flow. 
  4. Small diameter of milk tubes. 
  5. An inefficient vacuum regulator. 
  6. Reduced capacity of vacuum pump. 

Combined with the functional and essential cyclic fluctuations, irregular fluctuationmight prolong milking time and impede a proper udder emptying, irritating teat tissue and potentially causing clinical mastitis. (Figure 2)


Figure 2 - Normal teat compared to different mastitis symptoms:
red teats, blue teats, open orifice, and firm red teats with ring at base.
Source milkrite | InterPuls internal training material

To show the value and importance of using good quality milking components in avoiding irregular fluctuations, Luca Giuliani, another of our experts shares a case study:

A farmer reached out to us, after noticing that his cows were unexpectedly restless during milking and mastitis cases were spreading among his herd. The reason for this change in behaviour and spread in infection, turned out to be a malfunctioning and worn valve, which generated irregular vacuum fluctuations, deeply affecting his milking process and, consequently damaging his cows’ udder health. Once we replaced the old valve with a new and efficient vacuum regulator, milk extraction was restored, and infections dramatically decreased. 

We hope these cases, enhanced by our experts’ insight, draw your attention not only to the importance of vacuum pulsation, but also how underestimating system maintenance could be the worst choice for your farms efficiency. 

However, these are only a few of the negative side effects of poor vacuum pulsationDon’t miss the next episode to find out more! 

milkrite | InterPuls thank their experts Filippo Lusetti and Luca Giuliani for the meaningful contribution. 




Date: 23 April 2021

  • Summary:
    Learn how vacuum and pulsation if incorrectly managed can damage your farm!