Thursday, 25 June 2009

Allow Cows Plenty of Space During Milking

Last week I had a great opportunity to stand & observe a herd of cows entering a circular collecting yard for milking in a new twin 20:40 Herringbone parlour. Stephen & Sandra Woof farm in Dorset & have not long been in the new parlour. Firstly the herd was brought in by Alistair (on foot) in a very quite & calm way. The 7 metre tracks are excellent, the cows moved quickly but tracked at their own pace. Once at the yards they walked directly to the milking platform. The cows filled the circular yard all facing in the right direction. Once the yard gate was closed the backing gate was left in place to allow the cows plenty of space. The cows were relaxed & at ease. This is so important as Neil Chesterton the NZ Vet from Inglewood in Taranaki has observed that much of the lameness on grass based dairy farms occurs in the collecting yard. This white line damage to the hoof is caused by the cows fighting for their space.
DONT PUSH THE COWS TOO HARD IN THE YARD. At Stephen & Sandra's farm this is particularly important as the second herringbone is not openned until the person who gets the cows from the paddock arrives & shuts the cows in. Individual cows then choose to be milked in the second parlour rather than the first.....they then manoeuvre their way thru the other cows to get into position to enter the milking patform. Cows need space to move, to choose which side of the herringbone they want to be milked on. Cows also need plenty of space after milking to move out of the parlour. In this way cows & people have a calm pleasant milking without stress. The incidence of lameness is much reduced if cows are NOT hassled & pushed thru milking.
DONT start moving the backing gate until at least 6 rows have been milked.
DONT run the backing gate without looking what's happening out in the yard
ONLY run the backing gate in very short bursts
BEST to fit a timer on the backing gate switch
BEST to also have a bell fitted to the backing gate.

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