Regardless of which hemisphere you call home, if you run a dairy, maintenance issues can sneak up on you. The CIP Detectives were recently called to an 800-cow operation in Japan to catch any culprits that could be affecting milk quality. The dairy in Japan was ISO-certified for environmental management and had been successfully operating for more than 100 years. They had a 60-stall rotary parlor with a 90-lb-per-day milk average.

Robinson ron
Milk Quality Specialist / AgroChem

On the surface, everything was clean including the cows. In fact, the dairy was producing high-quality milk and somatic cell counts were around 180,000 – but its owners wondered if it could be better. We took out our magnifying glasses and went to work on the “Case of the Maintenance Miscreants.”

Culprit #1: Ring around the washplugs

First, we spotted two milkline washplugs clamped together where there should have been just one.

Presumably the milker used this retrofit to save time by just flipping the plugs over and cleaning the top one in place.


Unfortunately, though, this did not allow sufficient cleaning and allowed bacteria to build up on the milk plug – as it was never getting cleaned.

Quick fix
Remove the clamp so the milk plug can be cleaned during the CIP process.

Culprit #2: Undercover meter reader

Further sleuthing showed some nasty buildup hiding on the inside of a milk meter.

The buildup on the meter pointed to a need to improve the overall CIP process.

There were many possible adjustments that could have been made, including the detergent, the amount of water or the temperature of the water.

In this case, we recommended an increase in the amount of water in the pre-rinse because not all meters were showing signs of buildup.

Quick fix
Increase the volume of water in the pre-rinse stage of the CIP process to prevent residue buildup.

Culprit #3: Off-kilter claw

Another sneaky quality thief that we spied was a milking cluster a little off-kilter.

The lock on the claw was not properly aligned, creating a leak and allowing air in, which displaced water flowing through the system.

When the system is not properly sealed, it can’t be completely sanitized because contaminants are constantly being introduced. Water pressure would also be affected.

Quick fix
Make sure the system is tight by checking the seals anywhere air has the potential to enter.

Culprit #4: Disintegrating gasket

Upon careful inspection, we also noticed a gasket on the jetter line was worn.

Careful inspection of this gasket reveals obvious deterioration.

As the integrity of a gasket breaks down, it is less able to perform its function, eventually allowing air and other contaminants into the sealed system.

Quick fix
Inspect gaskets regularly and replace them at least once a year.

Culprit #5: Filthy filter

As we made a final pass through the dairy, one more culprit could not escape detection: The once sparkling-white air blow filter between the receiver and the bulk tank was blackened from bacterial growth.

Bacteria and other contaminants were no longer being trapped by the filter but instead were blown into the milk, affecting its quality.

Quick fix
Replace filters at least monthly.

While each of these maintenance issues was fairly minor, combined they represented a potential threat to the overall quality of milk production at the otherwise clean and efficient dairy.


To keep the “maintenance miscreant” at bay, it’s important to work with your dealer closely to stay on top of maintenance issues or make sure that your own milkers and maintenance staff are diligently performing routine maintenance.

Saying you’ll do it is not enough because tending to your herd will always seem like a higher priority; sometimes it’s better to use the dealer’s services to make sure it gets done and done correctly. PD

Robinson is employed by A&L Laboratories . Click here to contact him.

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Ron Robinson
Vice President of Business Development
A&L Laboratories