Farm Ireland

Saturday 18 November 2017

Work routine time is key to good productivity in parlour

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

In an ideal situation, the milker should be able to milk all cows in one go without leaving the pit at any stage. This is the most productive way of milking any herd.

The productivity of any parlour depends on a number of factors including cow drafting, parlour design, location of the parlour, skill of the milker, and the holding yard design.

The length of time it takes to milk the herd will also depend on the milk yield and milking routine of the herd, the design of milking equipment and location of udder wash hoses, teat spray jets, and the power hose for occasional washing of cow standings.

Parlour throughput (cows per hour) is very important. Extra units, good parlour design, labour-saving devices, labour efficient and safe handling facilities will not only increase the parlour throughput rate but should also save money.

Parlour throughput hinges on the number of units, good work routine, general design and layout of the parlour and collecting yard, backing gate and the absence of obstructions entering and leaving the parlour. Time will also be saved by having entrance and exit gates that can be opened from anywhere in the pit, good light and a non-stressful parlour.

Safety is also important, Teagasc's Tom Ryan insists.

"Any facility should be planned and built so that one person can operate it and handle animals in safety," he says. "Safety for the user is most important but the importance of safety during construction and subsequent maintenance is also key."

Milking routine

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Production levels, design of the milking units, and work routine time (WRT) together decide the eventual performance of a parlour. The WRT is the time taken to carry out all operations at a milking unit.

The work routine practiced on a particular farm is the most important factor in calculating the number of cows a milker can milk in an hour.

The performance (P) of a parlour in terms of cows milked per manhour may be stated as P=60/WRT (minutes). A typical work routine time is shown in Table 2 (below). This shows a breakdown, in seconds per cow, of the various tasks in a typical milking routine. The times were recorded in the Moorepark labour survey. The total is 34.2 seconds, making it possible for one person to milk 105 cows in one hour (P=60/0.57), assuming that the number of units is not the limiting factor.

If we omit the pre-spray and paper dry, the WRT is 26.2 seconds (0.4366 minutes), making it theoretically possible for one milker to milk 137 cows in an hour.

Indo Farming