Believe it or not, there’s more than one way to milk a cow.
click image to zoomModern Farm WifeModern Farm Wife blogger Jessica Folkema and her husband, "Dairy Man." You can milk by hand … by sucky-thingy … by robot. Yes, I said robot. If the Jetsons had a dairy farm in space, they would have Rosie out there milking the cows. (I am aware that I’m dating myself with that reference. We could also talk about Lisa Frank notebooks and how emotional it was to watch Littlefoot lose his mother.
But we’re not here to talk about adorable longnecks, we’re here to talk about milking parlors. Let this tide you over until our next foray into the 90s.)
I’m slowly developing proficiency with dairy lingo. My vernacular has been stretched, twisted, and traumatized more times than I can count. Thankfully, one area that doesn’t cause too much emotional distress is milking parlors. Especially when you compare them to companies that sell bull juice.
It’s hard to believe that there was a time when the word “parlor” conjured up mental images of Victorian wingbacks, lace doilies, and Jane Austen novels. After over 2.5 years in this dairy world, my version of a “parlor” always has cows, milking units, and stainless steel.
Modern Farm Wife
I’ve only recently learned that there is more than one kind of milking parlor.
So how does a farmer decide which type is right for his or her dairy?
Several factors have to be weighed when picking out the perfect parlor, such as herd size, breed of cow, number of available employees, and existing space. Some dairies utilize robotic milking units and have only one fella running the show. Other dairies have 60 cows on each side of the parlor and six full-time milkers per shift.
For this post I tapped into my …ahem… notable artistic skill (just look at the scientific diagram in this post comparing blue whales to a silage pack) to explain the four main types of dairy milking parlors:
As you will quickly learn, I draw a very realistic aerial view of a cow.
1. Let’s start with a tandem (side opening) parlor.
Modern Farm Wife
Our north dairy was purchased in 2010 with a tandem parlor. In a tandem parlor, the cows stand horizontal to the milkers. A gate at the entrance of the parlor holds the cow until an empty stall is ready. One benefit of a tandem parlor is that it releases cows individually (versus all at once like in a parallel), so a slow-milking Bessie doesn’t impede the group.
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