milking arrangement

Abstract

The present invention refers to a milking arrangement for milking an animal during a milking operation. The arrangement includes a stationary structure and a milking member ( 5 ) including at least one teatcup to be attached to a teat of the animal to be milked. A long milk conduit ( 10 ) extends from the milking member and is adapted to be connected to a milking machine. A support device includes a stationary rail element ( 18 ), which is mounted to the stationary structure, and a support arm ( 17 a , 17 b ), which extends in parallel to an arm axis (x) and to which the milking member is attached. The support arm is connected to the rail element in such a way that the support arm during the milking operation is freely movable on the rail element along the rail axis.

Claims

1 . A milking arrangement for milking an animal during a milking operation, comprising a stationary structure; a milking member comprising at least one teatcup adapted to be attached to a teat of the animal to be milked; at least one long milk conduit extending from the milking member and adapted to be connected to a milking machine; and a support device, said support device comprising a stationary rail element, which is mounted to the stationary structure, and a support arm, which extends in parallel to an arm axis and to which the milking member is attached, wherein the support arm is connected to the rail element such that the support arm is freely movable on the rail element during the milking operation to follow movements of the animal in parallel to the rail element. 2 . A milking arrangement according to claim 1 , wherein the stationary structure comprises a milking parlour adapted to receive one or more animals to be milked. 3 . A milking arrangement according to claim 2 , wherein the milking parlour comprises a parlour floor located at a first level, and wherein the rail element extends at a second level beneath the first level. 4 . A milking arrangement according to claim 3 , wherein the stationary structure comprises a pit area, having a pit floor located at a third level beneath the first level and the second level. 5 . A milking arrangement according to claim 4 , wherein the stationary structure comprises a wall extending substantially between the parlour floor and the pit floor, and wherein the rail element is attached to the wall. 6 . A milking arrangement according to claim 2 , wherein the support arm is adapted to extend between rear legs of the animal to be milked during the milking operation. 7 . A milking arrangement according to claim 1 , wherein rail element extends in parallel with a substantially horizontal rail axis. 8 . A milking arrangement according to claim 7 , wherein the support arm is connected to the rail element in such a way that the arm axis and the rail axis form a substantially constant angle at least during the milking operation. 9 . A milking arrangement according to claim 1 , wherein the milking member is freely movable along the arm axis during the milking operation. 10 . A milking arrangement according to claim 9 , wherein the support arm provides a first inner position relatively close to the rail element and a second outer position relatively far away from the rail element, wherein the milking member is freely movable between the first inner position and the second outer position. 11 . A milking arrangement according to claim 10 , wherein the milking arrangement comprises a removing device adapted to remove the milking member from the teats when the milking operation is finished, wherein the removing device is adapted to move the milking member from the second outer position to the first inner position. 12 . A milking arrangement according to claim 1 , wherein the support device also comprises a mounting device slidably attached to the rail element, wherein the support arm is connected to the mounting device to be movable with respect to the mounting device in order to be positionable in at least a rest position and an active milking position. 13 . A milking arrangement according to claim 10 , wherein the support device also comprises a mounting device slidably attached to the rail element, wherein the support arm is connected to the mounting device to be movable with respect to the mounting device in order to be positionable in at least a rest position and an active milking position, and wherein the milking member is adapted to be positioned at the first inner end when the support arm is in the rest position and at the second outer position when the support arm is in the active milking position. 14 . A milking arrangement according to claim 12 , wherein the milking member is attached to the support arm in the rest position and the active milking position. 15 . A milking arrangement according to claim 9 , wherein the milking member is attached to the support arm in such a way that the milking member is freely movable on the support arm along the arm axis. 16 . A milking arrangement according to claim 9 , wherein the milking arrangement comprises a slide member holding the milking member and being attached to the support arm to be displaceable along the arm axis. 17 . A milking arrangement according to claim 1 , wherein the support arm comprises a primary arm element and a secondary arm element holding the milking member, wherein the primary arm element is telescopically introduceable into the secondary arm element, and wherein the secondary arm element is displaceable on the primary arm element along the arm axis. 18 . A milking arrangement according to claim 1 , wherein the support arm comprises a first arm and a second arm wherein the first arm and the second arm both extend in parallel to the arm axis. 19 . A milking arrangement according to claim 18 , wherein both the first arm and the second arm comprise a respective primary arm element connected to the mounting device and a respective secondary arm element holding the milking member, wherein the primary arm elements are telescopically introduceable into the secondary arm elements, and wherein the secondary arm elements are displaceable on a respective one of the primary arm elements in parallel to the arm axis.
THE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION AND PRIOR ART [0001] The present invention refers to a milking arrangement for milking an animal during a milking operation, comprising a stationary structure, a milking member comprising at least one teatcup to be attached to a teat of the animal to be milked, at least one long milk conduit extending from the milking member and adapted to be connected to a milking machine, and a support device comprising a stationary rail element, which is mounted to the stationary structure, and a support arm, which extends in parallel to an arm axis and to which the milking member is attached. [0002] There are several different milking methods known today. One differs between manual milking, where the milking operation is performed by hand, and machine milking, where the milking is performed by a milking machine. Machine milking may be semiautomatic, i.e. the teatcups are still attached manually and may be automatically removed from the teats after the milking operation is finished. Such semi-automatic milking is the most frequent method today, especially in milking arrangements comprising a large number of animals. In recent time, fully automatic milking is also used, wherein the teatcups are attached in an automatic manner to the teats of the animal to be milked, which means that no manual operation is any longer needed. [0003] This invention refers to an arrangement to be operated in the first place according to the semi-automatic milking method. In such an arrangement, the attachment of the teatcups is still a rather heavy and time-consuming work. The operator has to move the teatcups to a position beneath the teats and to lift the teatcups for the attachment of the teatcups to the teats. [0004] During the milking operation it is desirable that the animal may move slightly in a lateral direction and in a longitudinal direction forwardly and rearwardly. If the animal is held in a completely fixed position in the milking parlour, the comfort of the animal will be reduced and the willingness of the animal to be milked will decrease. It is therefore important that the milking member during the milking operation may follow the movements of the animal without being removed from the teats. This problem is traditionally solved in that the milking member during the milking operation is attached to the teats only, and not held by any other mechanical member. In the milking arrangement identified above, the milking member is attached to the support arm so that the milking member during the milking operation is held by and supported by the support arm. Such a solution is advantageous for several reasons. For instance, the milking member will be held by the support arm also when the milking member has been removed from the teats so that the teatcups are prevented from falling down on the floor, where they can be contaminated. [0005] US-E-22,368 discloses a milking parlour for housing an animal to be milked. A support arm is attached to the enclosure of the milking parlour and vertically displaceable along a vertical frame. The vertical frame is displaceable in a horizontal direction on two rails in order to permit an adjustment of the support arm to a correct position in relation to the position of the teats. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION [0006] The object of the present invention is to provide a milking arrangement having a support arm carrying a milking member in such away that the milking member may follow movements of the animal during the milking operation. [0007] This object is achieved by the milking arrangement initially defined, which is characterized in that the support arm is connected to the rail element in such away that the support arm during the milking operation is freely movable on the rail element. By such an arrangement the milking member, which is attached to the support arm, may be moved freely and thus follow movements of the animal in parallel to the rail element. Consequently, the present invention provides a milking arrangement where the milking member is attached to the support arm so that there is no risk that the milking member will fall down on the floor when the milking operation is finished. Furthermore, the handling of a milking member constantly attached to the support arm is facilitated in many ways. [0008] According to an embodiment of the invention, the stationary structure comprises a milking parlour adapted to receive one or more animals to be milked. The milking parlour may comprise a parlour floor located at a first level, wherein the rail element extend at a second level beneath the first level. In such a way, the rail element will be located completely out of range for the animal. Moreover, the rail element will not disturb the milker when the milking member is attached to the teats of the animal. [0009] According to a further embodiment of the invention, the stationary structure comprises a pit area, having a pit floor located at a third level beneath the first level and the second level. The stationary structure may then comprise a wall extending substantially between the parlour floor and the pit floor, wherein the rail element is attached to the wall. [0010] According to a further embodiment of the invention, the support arm is adapted to extend between the rear legs of the animal to be milked during the milking operation. Consequently, the milking member may follow movements of the animal in a lateral direction. [0011] According to a further embodiment of the invention, the rail element extends in parallel with a substantially horizontal rail axis, wherein the support arm is freely movable along the rail axis during the milking operation when the teatcups are attached to the teats. Advantageously, the support arm is connected to the rail element in such a way that the arm axis and the rail axis form a substantially constant angle at least during the milking operation. This angle may for instance be approximately perpendicular. It should be noted, that the support arm also can be rotatable in a horizontal plane so that the angle after the milking operation is finished is changed. [0012] According to a further embodiment of the invention, the milking member, during the milking operation, is freely movable along the arm axis. In such a way, the milking member may also be freely movable in the direction perpendicular to the direction of the rail axis. Consequently, the milking member may follow the animal when the animal moves in any direction. Advantageously, the support arm provides a first inner position relatively close to the rail element and a second outer position relatively far away from the rail element, wherein the milking member is freely movable between the first inner position and the second outer position. [0013] According to a further embodiment of the invention, the milking arrangement comprises a removing device adapted to remove the milking member from the teats when the milking operation is finished, wherein the removing device is adapted to move the milking member from the second outer position to the first inner position. Consequently, the milking member will move along the support arm during the removing of the milking member from the teats without being detached from the support arm. [0014] According to further embodiment of the invention, the support device also comprises a mounting device slideably attached to the rail element, wherein the support arm is connected to the mounting device to be movable with respect to the mounting device in order to be positionable in at least a rest position and an active milking position. Such a moving of the support arm with respect to the mounting device may be performed as a rotation in any plane, for instance in a horizontal plane or in a vertical plane. Advantageously, the milking member is adapted to be positioned at the first inner end when the support arm is in the rest position and at the second outer position when the support arm is in the active milking position. Preferably, the milking member is attached to the support arm in the rest position and in the active position. Consequently, the milking member may be constantly attached to the support arm. [0015] According to a further embodiment of the invention, the milking member is attached to the support arm in such away that the milking member is freely movable on the support arm along the arm axis. Advantageously, the milking member comprises a slide member holding the milking member and being attached to the support arm to be displaceable along the arm axis. The milking member may be pivotable around pivot axis extending at an angle to the arm axis. This angle may for instance be substantially perpendicular. [0016] According to a further embodiment of the invention, the support arm comprises a primary arm element and a secondary arm element holding the milking member, wherein the primary arm element is telescopically introducible into the secondary arm element, and wherein the secondary arm element is displaceable on the primary arm element along the arm axis. By such a support arm a further possibility of freely moving the milking member along the arm axis is achieved. The milking member together with the secondary arm element may thus be freely movable in relation to the primary arm element. Advantageously, the milking member is also, but not necessarily, movable in relation to the secondary arm element, for instance by means of the slide member. [0017] According to a further embodiment of the invention, the support arm comprises a first arm and a second arm, wherein the first arm and the second arm both extend in parallel to the arm axis. By providing the support arm with two such arms, the strength of the support arm may be improved. The slide member may be mounted to the first arm and the second arm to be displaceable along the arm axis. [0018] According to a further embodiment of the invention, both the first arm and the second arm comprise a respective primary arm element connected to the mounting device and a respective secondary arm element holding the milking member wherein the primary arm elements are telescopically introducible into the secondary arm elements, and wherein the secondary arm elements are displaceable on a respective one of the primary arm elements in parallel to the arm axis. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS [0019] The present invention is now to be explained more closely by means of a description of various preferred embodiments and with reference to the drawings attached hereto. [0020] FIG. 1 discloses schematically a side view of a first embodiment of a milking device according to the invention in an active milking position. [0021] FIG. 2 discloses a view from above of the milking device in FIG. 1 in an intermediate position. [0022] FIG. 3 discloses schematically a side view of the milking device in FIG. 1 in an intermediate position. [0023] FIG. 4 discloses schematically a side view of the milking device in FIG. 1 in a rest position. [0024] FIG. 5 discloses a second embodiment of a milking device according to the invention. [0025] FIGS. 6-9 disclose various alternative embodiments of a rail element of the milking device. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF VARIOUS EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION [0026] FIGS. 1 to 4 disclose a first embodiment of a milking arrangement comprising a milking device 1 for milking an animal during a milking operation. The milking device 1 is provided in a stationary structure 2 in the form of a milking stall. The milking stall comprises at least one milking parlour 3 for receiving at least one animal to be milked. The milking stall may comprise a large number of milking parlours 3 or milking boxes arranged in any preferred configuration. Each milking parlour 3 is adapted to house one or more animals at a first level on a substantially horizontal parlour floor 3 ′ for milking of the respective animal during a respective milking operation. The stationary structure 2 also comprises a pit area 4 having a substantially horizontal pit floor 4 ′ at a third level, and a substantially vertical wall 13 extending at least substantially between the parlour floor 3 ′ and the pit floor 4 ′. [0027] The milking device 1 comprises a milking member 5 comprising at least one teatcup 6 to be attached to a teat of the animal to be milked. In the embodiments disclosed, the milking member 5 comprises a claw 7 and four teatcups 6 . Each teatcup 6 is connected to the claw 7 via a respective short milk conduit 8 . Each teatcup 6 defines an inner space for receiving a respective teat and has an upper opening 9 permitting the introduction of the teat into the inner space of the teatcup 6 . Each short milk conduit 8 has such a stiffness that the teatcups 6 are maintained in a position with the openings 9 turned substantially upwards also when the teatcups 6 are not attached to the teats of the animal and the claw is in a substantially horizontal position as shown in FIG. 1 . As can be seen in FIG. 1 each short milk conduit 8 is attached to the respective teatcup 6 at an upper part of an outer side surface of the teatcup 6 . Each short milk conduit 8 has a first substantially straight portion connected to the claw 7 and a second substantially straight portion connected to the respective teatcup 6 . The first straight portion is approximately perpendicular to the second straight portion. In the position disclosed in FIG. 1 , the first straight portion extends substantially vertically and the second straight portion extends substantially horizontally. A long milk conduit 10 extends from the milking member 5 . In the embodiment disclosed in FIGS. 1-4 , the long milk conduit 10 is attached to and extends from the claw 7 . The long milk conduit 10 is adapted to be connected to a milking machine (not disclosed) in a manner known per se. It should also be noted that each teatcup 6 in a conventional manner comprises a pulsation chamber (not disclosed) connected to a pulsator (not disclosed) via pulse conduit (not disclosed), which could be a separate conduit or a conduit integrated in the short milk conduit 8 and/or the long milk conduit 10 . [0028] The milking device 1 also comprises a support device 15 . The support device 15 comprises a mounting device 16 and a support arm 17 a , 17 b . The support arm 17 a , 17 b has an elongated shape and extends in parallel to an arm axis x. The mounting device 16 is adapted to be mounted to the stationary structure 2 . In the embodiments disclosed, the stationary structure 2 comprises a rail element 18 provided outside the milking parlour 3 and mounted to the substantially vertical wall 13 next to and beneath the milking parlour 3 . The rail element 18 extends in parallel to or along a horizontal or substantially horizontal rail axis r at a second level between the first level and third level. It should be noted that the rail axis r could be inclined with respect to a horizontal line. The mounting device 16 is mounted to the rail element 18 to be freely movable on the rail element 18 along the rail axis r at least during the milking operation. [0029] The support arm 17 a , 17 b is connected to the mounting device 16 via a connecting member 19 . The support arm 17 a , 17 b is movable with respect to the mounting device 16 . In the embodiments disclosed, the support arm 17 a , 17 b is rotatable in a vertical plane with respect to the mounting device 16 . This possibility of rotation of the support arm 17 a , 17 b is accomplished by means of a rotary joint 19 ′ of the connecting member 19 . The connecting member 19 is thus mounted to the mounting device 16 by means of the rotary joint 19 ′. [0030] The milking member 5 is attached to the support arm 17 a , 17 b and at the same time freely movable along the arm axis x. This movability is accomplished in two ways. The milking member 5 is displaceable on the support arm 17 a , 17 b along the arm axis x. The milking device 1 may then comprise a slide member 20 , which holds the milking member 5 and is slidably attached to the support arm 17 a , 17 b to be displaceable along the arm axis x. More specifically, as can be seen from the figures, the slide member 20 holds the claw 7 via two pins 21 attached to the claw 7 and extending through corresponding holes extending through two flange members 22 provided on the slide member 20 . The claw 7 is pivotal with respect to the slide member 22 by means of the pins 21 . More specifically, the claw 7 is pivotal around a pivot axis p extending in parallel to the pins 21 . In the embodiments disclosed, the pivot axis p extends at a substantially right angle in relation to the arm axis x. The flange members 22 are elastically flexible so that the claw 7 and the milking member 5 can be easily detached from the slide member 20 by bending the flange members 22 outwardly. [0031] The support arm 17 a , 17 b comprises a primary arm element 17 a ′, 17 b ′ connected to the mounting device and a secondary arm element 17 a ″, 17 b ″ holding the milking member 5 . The movability of the milking member 5 is also accomplished by the feature that the primary arm element 17 a ′, 17 b ′ is telescopically introduceable into the secondary arm element 17 a ″, 17 b ″ so that the secondary arm element 17 a ″, 17 b ″ is displaceable and freely movable on the primary arm element 17 a ′, 17 b ′ along the arm axis x. The support arm 17 a , 17 b has an inner end connected to the mounting device 16 and an opposite outer end. The milking member 5 is thus displaceable on the support arm 17 a , 17 b between a first inner position in the proximity of the inner end, see FIG. 4 , and a second outer position in the proximity of the outer end, see FIG. 1 . Furthermore, the support arm 17 a , 17 b is, as mentioned above, connected to the mounting device 16 to be movable with respect to the mounting device 16 in order to be positionable in at least a rest position shown in FIG. 4 and an active milking position shown in FIG. 1 . [0032] As can be seen from FIG. 2 , the support arm 17 a , 17 b may comprise a first arm 17 a and a second arm 17 b . The teatcups 6 and the short milk conduits 8 are not disclosed in FIG. 2 . Both the first arm 17 a and the second arm 17 b extend in parallel to each other and to the arm axis x. Both the first arm 17 a and the second arm 17 b are at the inner ends connected to the mounting device 16 via the connecting element 19 . At the outer ends the first arm 17 a and the second arm 17 b are connected to each other via a connecting rod 25 . The long milk conduit 10 extends beside the support arm 17 a , 17 b and in the first embodiment, the long milk conduit 10 extends between the first arm 17 a and the second arm 17 b . The slide member 20 is mounted to the first arm 17 a and the second arm 17 b to be displaceable along the arm axis x. Both the first arm 17 a and the second arm 17 b comprise a respective primary arm element 17 a ′, 17 b ′ connected to the mounting device 19 and a respective secondary arm element 17 a ″, 17 b ″ holding the milking member 5 . The primary arm elements 17 a ′, 17 b ′ are telescopically introduceable into the secondary arm elements 17 a ″, 17 b ″ in such a way that the secondary arm elements 17 a ″, 17 b ″ are displaceable on the respective primary arm element 17 a ′, 17 b ′ in parallel to the arm axis x. [0033] The milking device 1 also comprises a removing device 30 provided to remove the milking member after the milking operation has been finished. The removing device 30 comprises a removing member 31 attached to the stationary structure 2 , and more specifically to the wall 13 . It is to be noted that the removing member 31 could also be attached to for instance the mounting device 16 . In the embodiments disclosed, the removing member 31 comprises a rotary motor. The removing member 31 may also as an alternative comprise a linear motor, such as a pneumatic or hydraulic cylinder. Furthermore, the removing device 30 comprises a guide member 32 and a line 33 , such as a wire, a chain etc. The line 33 extends between and is connected to the removing member 31 and the milking member 5 . The guide member 32 is attached to the connecting member 19 and fixed in relation to the support arm 17 a , 17 b . The guide member is located at a horizontal position lying between a horizontal position of a connection point of the line 33 to the removing member 31 and a horizontal position of a connection point of the line 33 to the milking member 5 . [0034] As indicated above, FIG. 1 discloses the milking device 1 in an active milking position in which the milking member is located at an outer end of the support arm and the teatcups 6 may be attached to the teats of the animal (not disclosed). FIG. 3 discloses the milking device 1 in an intermediate position in which the milking member 5 has been displaced on the support arm 17 a , 17 b , i.e. on the secondary arm element 17 a ″, 17 b ″, away from the outer end and towards an inner end of the support arm 17 a , 17 b . In the intermediate position disclosed in FIG. 3 , also the secondary arm element 17 a ″, 17 b ″ has been displaced on the primary support element towards the inner end of the support arm 17 a , 17 b . FIG. 4 discloses the milking device 1 in a rest position, in which the milking member 5 is located at the inner end of the support arm 17 a , 17 b. [0035] As mentioned above, the mounting device 16 with the support arm 17 a , 17 b and the milking member 5 , is freely movable on the rail element 18 during the milking operation, when the milking device 1 is in the active milking position, i.e. the teatcups 6 are attached to the teats. However, it is to be noted that the mounting device 16 , with the support arm 17 a , 17 b and the milking member 5 , also may be freely movable along the rail element 18 when the milking device 1 is in the rest position and in the intermediate position. [0036] Furthermore, in the rest position the support arm 17 a , 17 b has been rotated in a vertical plane with respect to the mounting device 16 so that the support arm 17 a , 17 b is located completely outside the milking parlour 3 , or at least substantially completely outside the milking parlour 3 . This rotation of the support arm 17 a , 17 b is accomplished by means of the gravity force, since the centre of gravity of the milking member 5 and the long milk conduit 10 will be located horizontally outside the point of rotation defined by the rotary joint 19 ′. Alternatively or additionally, the milking device may also comprise a force element 38 exerting a force acting on the support arm 17 a , 17 b to facilitate the moving of the support arm 17 a , 17 b from the active milking position to the rest position. Consequently, in this case the force element 38 may, when the milking member 5 has been moved from the second outer position to the first inner position, overcome the weight of the support arm 17 a , 17 b , the milking member 5 , the slide member 20 and the long milk conduit 10 , and rotate the support arm from the active milking position shown in FIG. 1 to the rest position shown in FIG. 4 . The force element 38 may comprises any suitable force-exerting member, such as an electrical motor, a pneumatic or hydraulic cylinder or a spring. The spring may, for instance, be a spiral spring incorporated in the rotary joint 19 ′, as indicated in FIG. 1 , or a helical spring acting on the support arm 17 a , 17 b. [0037] The teatcups 6 can be easily attached to the teats of an animal by a milker when the milking device 1 is in the rest position. The milker can then grip two of the teatcups 6 and move them forwardly, i.e. from the position outside the milking parlour 3 to a position beneath the udder and the teats of the animal. This movement is permitted by the rotation of the support arm 17 a , 17 b around the connecting joint 19 ′ and by the movement of the milking member 5 along the arm axis x. At this position, the teatcups 6 can be slightly lifted onto the respective teats. The animal may then be milked during the milking operation. When the milking operation is finished, the removing device 30 is activated, wherein the milking member 5 is withdrawn from the teats and moved rearwardly to be in the first inner position. At this position the centre of gravity of the milking member 5 and the long milk conduit will be outside the rotary joint 19 ′ so that the support arm will be rotated back to the rest position shown in FIG. 4 , possibly assisted by the force element 38 . [0038] FIG. 5 discloses a second embodiment which differs from the first embodiment in that the support arm 17 a , 17 b , in addition to the primary arm element 17 a ′, 17 b ′ and the secondary arm element 17 a ″, 17 b ″, comprises a third intermediate arm element 17 a ′″, 17 b ′″. The primary arm element 17 a ′, 17 b ′ is telescopically introduceable into and freely movable in the intermediate arm element 17 a ′″, 17 b ′″ along the arm axis x, and the intermediate arm element 17 a ′″, 17 b ′″ is telescopically introduceable into and freely movable in the secondary arm element 17 a ″, 17 b ″ along the arm axis x. With such a telescopic support arm 17 a , 17 b , the total stroke of the support arm 17 a , 17 b may be further prolonged in comparison with the prior art. Alternatively or additionally, the slide member 20 may be omitted, wherein the milking member 5 is fixedly attached to the outer secondary arm element 17 a ″, 17 b ″. In the latter case the milking member 5 is still freely movable along the arm axis x since the secondary arm element 17 a ″, 17 b ″ is movable in relation to the primary arm element 17 a ′, 17 b ′ and/or the intermediate arm element 17 a ′″, 17 b ′″. It should be noted that the support arm 17 a , 17 b may comprise more than three such telescopic arm elements. [0039] It is to be noted that the support arm 17 a , 17 b may be arranged to extend between the rear legs of the animal to be milked. The milking member 5 will then follow any lateral movement of the animal during the milking operation thanks to the feature that the mounting device 16 may move freely on the rail element 18 . The milking member 5 will also follow any longitudinal forward or backward movement of the animal during the milking operation thanks to the feature that the milking member 5 may move freely along the support arm 17 a , 17 b . The latter movement is permitted by means of the slide member being slidable on the second arm element 17 a ″, 17 b ″ and/or the second arm element 17 a ″, 17 b ″ being slidable on the primary arm element 17 a ′, 17 b′. [0040] The rail element 18 may be mounted in relation to the milking parlour 3 in such way that the rail element 18 extends behind the animal to be milked or beside the animal to be milked. In both case lateral and/or longitudinal movements of the milking member 5 in relation to the animal are permitted. [0041] In the embodiments disclosed in FIG. 1-5 , the rail element 18 extends beneath the first level of the parlour floor 3 ′. However, it is to be noted that the rail element 18 may be designed in a variety of different ways and may extend in a variety of different positions as illustrated in FIGS. 6-9 . For instance, the rail element 18 may extend at a second level completely or partly above the first level as indicated in FIGS. 6 , 7 and 9 . The rail element 18 may also be integrated in the corner formed by the wall 13 and the parlour floor 3 ′ as indicated in FIGS. 6 and 9 . The rail element 18 may be hidden and or protected behind a sheet element 39 as indicated in FIG. 7 . The cross-sectional shape of the rail element 18 may vary. The extension of the cross-sectional shape of the rail element may vary between a substantially vertical extension as shown in FIGS. 1-5 and 7 to a substantially horizontal extension as shown in FIG. 8 . FIGS. 6 and 9 show an inclined extension of the cross-sectional shape. [0042] The present invention is not limited to the embodiments disclosed but may be varied and modified within the scope of the following claims. The support arm 17 a , 17 b may, instead of having two parallel arms 17 a , 17 b as shown in FIG. 2 , be provided with only one arm. In the embodiments disclosed, the milking member 5 comprises a claw 7 . It should be noted that the milking member 5 also may comprise the teatcups 6 and a respective long milk conduit 10 for each teatcup 6 , wherein the long milk conduits 10 are directly connected to the respective teatcup 6 permitting so called quarter milking.

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Patent Citations (1)

    Publication numberPublication dateAssigneeTitle
    US-3789798-AFebruary 05, 1974Sta Rite IndustriesAutomatic milking unit

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