Effects of flow-controlled vacuum on milking performance and teat condition in a rotary milking parlor

D.J. Reinemann*, B.H.P. van den Borne, H. Hogeveen, M. Wiedemann, C.O. Paulrud

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this study was to compare a vacuum control system that increases milking system vacuum during the peak flow period of milking to conventional constant vacuum control technology regarding its effect on milk flowrate and milking duration. Further objectives were to study the effects of flow-controlled vacuum on milking parlor performance. An observational study was conducted on a commercial dairy farm milking from 848 to 896 cows per day over the study period using a 60-stall rotary milking parlor. The flow-controlled vacuum control system was applied for 3 wk. Milking performance and teat condition were compared with 3-wk periods prior and subsequent to the test period using conventional vacuum control. Statistical analysis was performed assuming a cross-sectional study design during each period. Flow-controlled vacuum increased peak milk flowrate by 12% and increased average milk flowrate by 4%. The decrease in individual cow milking duration was proportional to milk yield per milking. Postmilking teat condition was good during the entire study period. The occurrence of rough teat ends was slightly reduced during the flow-controlled vacuum period with no meaningful difference in the occurrence of teats with blue color, palpable rings, or petechia. The combination of reduced vacuum during the low flow period of milking and the decrease in milking duration are likely factors that are protective of teat tissues. Bioeconomic modeling of the use of flow-controlled vacuum on the performance of rotary milking parlors, using the data that were collected during the study, showed that the reduction in milking duration of individual cows allows a higher rotary parlor speed. Modeled parlor throughput increased by 5.0% to 419 cows/h, 6.8% to 407 cows/h, and 4.2% to 326 cows/h when 80%, 95%, and 99% of the cows were finished milking at the end of the rotation for a 60-stall parlor. Model results showed that increased parlor throughput resulted in increased labor efficiency, reduced labor costs for milking, and a positive benefit-cost ratio on the investment for all but the smallest herd and parlor sizes considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6820-6831
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number6
Early online date24 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • labor efficiency
  • milking machine performance
  • milking speed
  • vacuum control


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