Job Description of a Milker

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Advances in agricultural technology have allowed the output of food to increase throughout human history. The traditional job of milking a cow has also been impacted by technological advances, with milkers utilizing milking machines. These milkers are able to milk hundreds of cows at the same time that it used to take to milk only a few dozen.

Function

  • Milkers are workers who extract milk from the mammary glands of cows so that the milk can be sold or turned into dairy products such as cheese and butter. Milking was once done by hand with the udders being squeezed into a pan or bucket, but modern ranches usually rely on milking machines. The milker cleans the milking machine with water and iodine. Then, cups that are attached to tubes are placed on the teats of the cow and pumps the milk out in a way similar to the sucking of a calf. The milker must follow regulations regarding how milk is extracted and stored. The milker is required to report whenever a particular cow is sick or injured. The milker must also examine milking machinery in order to make sure that it is functioning properly.

Machinery

  • The milk machine allows for almost 20 times the amount of cows to be milked. The machines are also cleaner and are less likely to hurt the cows than the human hand. Milking machines come in two types: the galvanized and the enameled. The galvanized milk machine is more expensive and designed for milking larger numbers of cows, while the enameled is cheaper and more intended for the milking of a smaller number of cows.

Conditions

  • Milking is usually done indoors, so the milkers are unlikely to be exposed to adverse weather conditions while working. Cows often defecate, creating sanitation problems for the milkers. Also, while working with the cows, there is the potential problem of biting and kicking. The number of hours that the milker puts in depends on how many cows the rancher has. A milking machine can often milk as many as 100 cows in an hour. In addition to milking, many milkers might have other jobs that are assigned to them.

Training

  • Milkers are almost always trained on-the-job and educational requirements are mostly zero. Many migrant workers who do not have a high school diploma work as milkers. Milkers need to be observant and careful, since improper use of the milking machines can injure the cows. They often work in teams and need good communication skills.

Outlook

  • The need for workers in agriculture was not expected to change between 2008 and 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Population growth was expected to fuel the need for dairy products, but increased automation will reduce the number of milkers who are needed. In 2008, farm and ranch animal workers earned a median hourly wage of $10.13.

References

  • Photo Credit got milk image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com
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