Modern milking machines can milk about 100 cows an hour. If milked by hand, you could only milk about 6 cows an hour. One of the biggest technological advances in the history of dairy farming was the milking machine. Before its invention farmers milked all their cows by hand, which could take as long as 20 minutes each. This process was time consuming therefore limiting the number of cows the farmer could have. Today, with modern machines and milking parlor designs, it's possible to milk as many as 100 cows per person per hour. A major factor is that one person can operate many machines at a time, but this wouldn't have been a possibility without the development of a safe efficient milking machine. Milking machines were being developed throughout the 1800’s, but were not truly effective until the advent of the “Thistle” pulsator vacuum milker which achieved USDA approval in 1898. This machines does not hurt the cow, in fact, she looks forward to being milked 2-3 times a day.
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