Udderly EZ Milkers for Mares, Cows, Goats, Sheep and Camels
Published on Tue, 05/19/2020 - 1:47pm
Udderly EZ Milkers for Mares, Cows, Goats, Sheep and Camels
By Heather Smith Thomas.
The Udderly EZ milker was invented out of necessity. Buck Wheeler came up with this idea for milking mares--when he was breeding 100 mares and foaling out mares for other breeders as well. Sometimes newborn foals need colostrum because they can’t suckle, and it can be difficult to milk a mare. There had to be a better way of collecting colostrum than hand stripping or using a 6- cc syringe with the end cut off to suction milk from a teat. He found a medical pump and designed a tube that would fit the udder.
He worked on this idea for 5 years and created a milker, trigger-operated with one hand. He made 2 sizes, for mares with small teats or large ones. The flanged edge was rounded and soft, to fit snugly against the udder without discomfort.
By 2005 several horse farms and veterinarians were using his device. Many veterinarians recommend getting colostrum into newborn foals very soon after birth—especially on farms that have problems with diarrhea and other diseases in young foals. If the foal can get colostrum immediately—before it bumbles around trying to find the udder, sucking on the mare’s dirty leg or flank—that foal has the necessary antibodies and is also stronger and more able to get right up and suckle the mare. The Udderly EZ milker is the easiest and quickest way to obtain colostrum from a mare, to provide colostrum to a newborn foal.
Soon Wheeler was asked if his innovation would work for sheep and goats. He started using silicone inserts in the tube, to make it softer and easier on sheep and goat udders, and experimented with larger collection bottles. For foals, an 8 or 16 ounce bottle was large enough, but people milking sheep and goats were milking larger quantities. “We made quart bottles, designed so you can freeze the milk in the collection bottle,” he says. A person could use a small bottle, put a nipple on it and feed the foal or lamb directly, or milk into the larger bottle for saving or freezing the milk.
“I always listen to what people tell me about their experience with the milker, and their questions, or what they think might improve it. I learned about ways to improve it, listening to feedback from people who use it,” he says. Some people wanted to be able to milk two teats at once, for dairy goats, or two goats at once, or all four teats on a cow, so he created milkers that utilized a power unit and routed the milk into a larger 2.6 gallon stainless steel bucket rather than a bottle for each teat.
Many folks who used to milk their goats by hand are delighted with this invention because it is faster, easy on the animal’s teats, and easier for them—especially if they have arthritis and hand milking is painful and difficult.
Fast forward to present day. Wheeler continued to improve his milker and now has versions for cows, sheep, goats, camels and other animals. He sells units for dairies—operated by electricity or battery-powered—capable of milking several animals at once. A growing number of goat dairies are now using these automatic milkers. Even for one goat, a person can use a 5-gallon collection bucket—to hold all the milk obtained, and not have to dump a bottle. “Along with the Udderly EZ Hand Milker™ we have added the Ultimate EZ Electric Milker™ for people with several goats to milk,” he says.
“One lady has been using our Ultimate Ez Milker on her goat herd for 7 years, since we first came out with it and was using the bottles, and she’s now added the 2.6 gallon stainless steel bucket. I invented new silicone inflations that are great for small-teated animal, since they taper down internally.”
As Wheeler began making thousands of these units, he had to order large volumes of silicone inserts—like 4000 at a time. “I found a place in Texas that would make these for us, so they will fit the extractor tubes on the hand milker, and the inflation shells for the electric milker. I invented those shells, using very hard food-grade plastic, and they fit all the inflations, and you can see the milk as it comes out of the teat. Every animal has different size teats so we have 3 sizes--color-coded so people know the green one is small, blue is medium and the red one is large. Like a leather glove—it just fits,” he says.
If a goat has big teats, you need the large size. Wheeler says people need to get past the idea that they need to suck the entire teat into it. “We showed a video of a goat with different size teats, and we were using a red one and a blue one on her. Even some cows have different size teats. Some people don’t want to pay a lot of money for a really good cow and buy rejects at the sales—cows with udder problems,” Wheeler says.
Recently he was at a dairy where some of the cows have had mastitis in at least one quarter, and one cow had just a tiny needle-size hole in the end of one teat. “On a cow like that you need different size inflations for the different size teats,” he says.
The silicone inflations are more expensive than rubber ones, but easier to clean and don’t hold bacteria like rubber does. “They are also very durable. Other than dogs or mice chewing them up if people leave them lying around the barn, we haven’t had to replace any for wearing out,” says Wheeler.
“You want the right size inflation. If it’s too large, it won’t have a good vacuum seal and the teat wobbles around in it. Aregular milker uses pulsation, which can be hard on those teats. A milker doesn’t have to pulsate to work effectively. Our milkers have never caused any cases of mastitits, as they are under strict vacuum control with a regulator and a safety vacuum release valve,” he says.
“I went into three Grade-A dairies and veterinary teaching schools in Minnesota, Kentucky and Iowa, milking goats, sheep and cows, and took videos and pictures and in all cases both of our milkers worked the same,” he says.
Some people, like the Amish, don’t have electricity in their milking barns so they run their milkers off generators or solar units. “We built a solar unit, but it was heavy so we put it on wheels. I got to thinking about using an inverter, so now we can slide this 300-watt inverter underneath the motor and it will run off whatever batteries they already have (the Milwaukee, Makita or DeWalt Batteries that they operate hand tools with).
We take 8 by 10-inch sheets of stainless steel and use a laser to zap in all the holes and cut out the plates for the inverters to attach to, using a computer. A person can attach their battery to it, plug it in, and milk an animal anywhere—even out in the pasture.”
Some Amish dairies have milk tanks in their barns, with cooling units run by diesel engines. “Some of them can’t use electricity or batteries, so I created a way they can plug this milker, called the EZ Vacuum Air Milker, into their air-line, and put a regulator on it,” says Wheeler.
Some people have a wooden stand for dairy goats, especially for small ones like the Nigerian goats. “They give a lot of milk but are very low to the ground. The nice thing about the bottles on these milkers is that they can operate on an angle if there isn’t enough room under the udder; they don’t have to be upright. If a person has a wooden stand, however, they can put a drop floor on it. Then you can put a bottle on one side and one on the other side so they can be upright, since it always helps if there is a little weight hanging down on the teat, if they are using the bottle milker. With the other milkers (with lines to a stainless steel bucket), it doesn’t make that much difference. The line just goes right into the bucket,” he explains.
Wheeler kept improving his innovation and making more options for people with various animals to milk, and today many veterinarians using it because it is so efficient and so easy on the animals’ teats. “The unit comes with full instructions and a free DVD to show people how it works. The black arrow is for sheep and goats and the red arrow is for camels, horses and cows. Our website also has a lot of useful information,” he says.
Wheeler has traveled to many places, and other countries, demonstrating various types of milkers, and now has dealers who also demonstrate and sell the product. He is always making improvements and new innovations. He sells thousands of these milkers worldwide, and is making some of the motorized units in 230 volts so people can use it in other countries.