by Patricia Grotenhuis
What are dairy barns like? There are three different kinds of dairy barns, and farmers chose the one that works best for them. Some have an existing barn which is set up in a specific way, and they decide to keep that style of barn. Others make changes as their needs change, or as new barns are built.
The three basic styles of dairy barn are pipeline or tie stall, parlour or free stall, and robotic, which is a different kind of free stall offering cows a choice of when they are milked.
Pipeline milking system: the cows stay in their stalls, the udders washed and a milking machine attached to all four teats on the cow’s udder. A hose runs from the milking machine to a stainless steel pipeline located over the cow’s head. The pipeline runs the length of the barn and is connected to a big bulk tank in the milk house.
Milking parlour: In a Free Stall barn, cows will walk to a milking parlour to be milked. There, the cows walk onto a raised platform with gates, which keep the animal in place while she is being milked. The milk goes directly from the milking machine through a pipeline to the bulk tank in the milk house. When milking is over, the cow walks out.
Robotic milking system: similar to a parlour system, except that the entire milking system is automated. Cows can enter the robot at anytime during the day to be milked. A warning system alerts the farmer if there is a problem with a cow or the milking system.Each kind of barn offers different benefits to the cows and the farmers, and it is up to the farmer to decide which system is best for their needs. My husband and father-in-law use a pipeline, or tie stall, milking system, while my parents use a free stall, or parlour, milking system.
The cows in both barns are comfortable and well cared for. In both barns, if a cow is showing signs of illness or injury, she is either monitored or treated right away, depending on the nature of the illness or injury.
Both barns offer a place for a sick or injured cow to be taken away from the main herd until she improves. Why would my in-laws decide on one style of barn while my parents decided on another? It all comes down to the needs on each farm.
My parents had a tie stall system when I was very young, however my dad had knee problems from sports injuries. He decided to switch to a parlour and free stall system so he could continue milking. It meant a number of changes were made at the barn to accommodate the new system, but the cows transitioned easily.
For my in-laws, keeping the original barn design for a tie stall system was the right decision. The cows are comfortable and content, and my husband enjoys working in the tie stall barn.
Will there be changes in the future? That will all depend on what needs there are on the farm at the time.
When farmers install a robotic system, it is normally because they are having trouble finding help in the barn, or because they are finding limitations with twice a day milking. Some farmers will milk more often in the other systems if they decide it will improve cow health and comfort, while others decide the robotic system which lets cows decide when they will be milked is best. In these systems, cows can be milked a minimum of one or a maximum of six times each day.
If you are a dairy farmer, which system did you choose for your barn, and why?
Posted by FFC on January 17th, 2013 :: Filed under Animal health,Barns,Dairy cattle,Farm life,Uncategorized
Tags :: barns, dairy cattle, Free Stall, technology, Tie Stall
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