Making Your Own Milking Machine

May 20th, 2011

Making Your Own Milking Machine

Many people wonder if it is faster to milk by hand or by machine.  Although the machine will milk faster than I can, it is important to note that there is far less clean-up when milking by hand.

Each time you finish milking by machine you must do the following:

1-     Wash and rinse the milk lines.

2-      Wash and rinse the inflations

3-      Clean and rinse any valves.

4-     Scrub, wash and rinse the bucket

When consideration is given to the additional clean up, I have found that the break even point between hand or machine milking is approximately 6-8 goats.

With that introduction if you want to milk by machine and don’t want to spent $1500 for a machine here is how to do it yourself.

Parts to the Milking Unit:

1. Milk Bucket….You can get one off of eBay. There are basically 2 kinds; the old belly pail Surge bucket milker that is shorter, wider and has a fixed handle on top. It holds approximately 2 to 2.5 gallons of milk.


And a DeLaval 5 gallon bucket. The prices vary on these items, just make sure you get one that isn’t rusted, doesn’t have any holes in it and is in usable condition.


* Note I have used both.  The old surge bucket works well but is more difficult to clean, harder to carry, and more difficult to pour from.


2. Lid. If you can get the lid with the bucket that is great, if not you’ll have to buy one separately. You can find these on eBay also. The surge bucket lids will fit on the DeLaval bucket. You will need to have a lid gasket that fits under the lid in order to produce a vacuum seal.


3. Pulsator. You have to get a pulsator that matches your lid. There are Surge pulsators with the “C” style and the “S” style. Make sure you know which style lid you have before you purchase your pulsator. You can get your pulsator from Hamby Dairy Supply. They can be purchased for around $55.00 for a re-built one. The vacuum line connecting barbs are on the front of the pulsator.  The larger, single barbed port in the back is for your vacuum supply line going from your vacuum pump to the pulsator.


4. Check Valve. This is a little stainles steel valve that goes in the “spout” where the pulsator sits and it has a tiny rubber tip on it. If your lid doesn’t have one you can get one from Hamby Dairy Supply for $8.00. Some lids also require you to have an “O” ring that sits over this spout seated at the bottom underneath where the pulsator fits onto the lid. If you have any questions you can email Paul Hamby and find out if your lid will need this “O” ring.








5. Lines. You will need Milk lines and vacuum lines. It depends on how many animals you are going to milk as to how many lines you need to hook up to your lid. I recommend just starting with milking one goat at a time until you have some experience under your belt. There are 4 barbs on the lid for milk lines. You will attach your milk lines to 2 of these and on the other 2 you will run a short piece (approx. 8 inches long) of milk line from one barb over to the other one just to close it off since it isn’t being used. You will repeat this process with the 4 barbs located on your pulsator. Milking one goat you will only use 2 of the vacuum lines, the other 2 barbs will be closed off using the same method as above. The milk lines are larger than the vacuum lines. Just take your pulsator and lid to Home Depot with you and try the different size clear (silicone) tubing.


6. Teat cups. There are a couple different kinds of teat cups. There are the stainless steel ones and the clear plastic ones. I prefer the clear ones so I can see what is going on. Milking one goat you will need a pair or (2) teat cups.  You might even want to get a goat claw to go on the bottom of your  assembly.  You also need an inline shut off valve. Most goats do not milk out both teats at exactly the same time. If one side finishes before the other, some use the valve to shut off the vacuum to the other inflation.


7. Inflations. These are the black rubber or white silicone inserts that fit down into the teat cups. These are the actual thing that the goat’s teats will fit down into to be milked. If they are not already put together when you purchase these items from Hamby Dairy Supply you need a little muscle to put the inflation down into the teat cup and pull it down into place. (See picture above.)

8. Vacuum pump. There are lots of styles and sizes out there. There is a gentleman named Chris Martin that builds and rebuilds vacuum pumps and has made some just for goat milkers. He is on eBay and his email address is They average about $180.00 and has plenty of power to pull enough vacuum to milk a goat.  These pumps are small and quiet and he can answer any questions you may have. They are also oilless so you don’t have to worry about keeping vacuum pump oil in your pump.  You can also search e-bay for vacuum pumps, I recommend a pump that has at least ½ hp.  You can also purchase large vacuum pumps that are powered by a separate motor these are driven by a v-belt the pump in the picture below is powered by a 3/4 HP electric motor.


9. Balance Tank.  These tanks are used to regulate pressure, if there is a sudden loss of pressure.  If using two sets of inflations the balance tank helps maintain vacuum pressure if one of the inflations falls off or when you have two sets of inflations.  Some use a large vacuum pump with large balance tank and include regulators to regulate the vacuum level and a vacuum gauge to monitor the amount of vacuum pull. For small show pump like pictured above you can install a regulator and gauge on the pump itself and include a small balance tank mostly to keep from sucking milk up into the pump in the event that you don’t pay attention and overflow your  milk bucket.  Pictured below is a sample home set up with pvc balance tank mounted on the wall.


On your balance tank there is a line that goes from the pump to the balance tank and one that goes from the balance tank to the back of the pulsator.

This is basically all you need to get started with a milking system.

Good luck.



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