Poor cow flow can affect costs and increase standing time – and therefore reduce feeding, drinking and lying times. These issues have poor consequences for foot health, and for milk production.
Cows milked in poorly maintained milking equipment will be reluctant to come into the parlour.
Check vacuum levels, automatic cup remover (ACR) settings and milking liners and also think about the standing point of the cow in the parlour.
Milking bigger cows in a parlour that was designed 16 years ago for smaller animals can make standing uncomfortable.
This can lead to less-effective milk let-down and incomplete milk-out.
Providing a small rise in the floor towards the parlour can also encourage cows to face and move forwards.
Installing rubber mats in a strip at the entrance to the parlour can draw cows towards the parlour.
Fitting rubber matting in the milking stalls, on exit and at any sharp turns can aid comfort and thus flow.
Cow flow typically becomes a problem on farms that have expanded and either extended or put in bigger parlours.
This is a particular problem when the size of the collecting yard has not changed and cow numbers have increased.
This means cows can be too tight in the collecting yard stopping the dominant or milking entry cows unable to move easily through the herd and into the parlour.
If used too much, a backing gate can push cows too close together and reduce space per cow, reducing cow movement.
The key is to set the gate’s sensitivity and resistance, so that when it comes into contact with a cow it stops.
Linking the rear gate of the parlour to the backing gate also helps to stop the space per cow from being compromised.
Never bunch cows with a gate this has a negative affect an can cause stress .
Cows do not like moving from light to dark so it’s important to minimise shadows.
They see shadows as holes.
Cows should move in a straight line in and out of the parlour as sharp bends can affect movement.
Avoid strangers from entering the parlour during milking .