Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Road test your parlour before you purchase it

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

There are many types of milking parlours on the market and a farmer's choice of system may come down to personal preference. Therefore, it is essential that farmers visit farms that have installed different milking machine designs.

Ideally, they should personally try out various systems by actually milking in each, rather than observing the parlour.

There are a range of widths and other critical dimensions for the herringbone, the 2ft 6in and the side-by-side parlours and these are shown below. These are guidelines only, so consult machine manufacturers to get the exact dimensions for their particular machines.

3-foot centre herringbone

Many existing parlours are of this design. The cow is 'side-on' to the milker and clusters are generally applied in front of the cow's legs.

There are drawbacks associated with this design:

nCows take up a lot of space in the parlour

nCows can kick off clusters

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nCows are at a 30° angle to milker

nThe longer pit increases walking time, making it less labour-efficient

nCluster attachment is in front of hind leg

nTroughs (concrete) are difficult to install accurately, so steel troughs are better

With the 3ft centre herringbone, there are two rail options:

nZig-zag mangers with a straight rump rail. The width of the cow standing is typically 1.9m (6' 3") from wall to edge of pit (1.7m for smaller cows).

nAdjustable breast rail with a zig-zag rump rail. This allows the operator to adjust the breast rail as the cow gets heavier in calf and keeps the number of cows equal to the number of clusters. It also helps when cows are lighter at the start of lactation. The width of the cow should be 2.1m or more.

2ft 6in centre herringbone

nIn this design, the cows are at a 50° angle to the milker

nAs it is a shorter pit, there is less walking

nClusters are applied between back legs, so there is less kicking off of clusters

nAlignment of swing arms/clusters is important

nGenerally no need for bailing/cow restraint

nEasier to fit into existing shed (if wide enough)

nMeasures 1.9m (6' 3") from wall to edge of pit

nGood cow flow

Side-by-side parlour

nIn this design, cows are almost at right angles to the edge of the pit and it is often used with sequential baling systems

nClusters are applied between the cow's rear legs

nThe cows are at 660mm, 685mm or 710mm centres (2' 2", 2' 3", or 2' 4")

nCows are at 85°-90° angle

nProvides good udder presentation, with clusters are applied between back legs

nShorter pit so less walking

nCows will need to be trained initially -- good cow control

nDesigned to work with a manual/sequential bailing system

nResults in good cow flow

nMeasures about 2.4m (8ft) from wall to edge of pit

Indo Farming