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Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Pp. 053-058 in Fifth International Dairy Housing Proceedings of the 29-31 January 2003 Conference (Fort Worth, Texas USA)  701P0203.(doi:10.13031/2013.11602)
Authors:   D E Klindworth
Keywords:   Labour productivity, herringbone dairies, rotary dairies, milk harvesting, milking systems, clusters

An Australian dairy industry benchmarking survey revealed an interesting picture of the milking systems in use and their corresponding labour productivity. Almost 1000 farms provided data on various aspects of their milk harvesting process. The most common milking system was the swing-over (50%). The next most common milking system was the double-up (about 30%), and walk through and rotary milking systems were about 10%.

Case study farms were visited to verify the productivity of the most efficient milking systems. One top performing rotary milking facility with 50 stalls operated by one milker achieved a cow through put of 245 cows an hour. The milk harvested was a little over 2500 litres per hour.

Currently a common milking system for herd sizes up to 300 cows is a rapid exit parallel doubleup. Swing-over milking systems are commonly built with around 16-18 milking clusters. For herd sizes of 400 or more the common solution is a rotary platform generally of about 50 stalls. One of the drivers for this solution is the prevailing attitude in Australia that each milking should not take more than two hours.

It is common to see new milking systems involving large amounts of capital investment operating for not much more than 4 hours a day. One of the reasons for this situation is that many farmers wish to avoid hiring labour or to use as little hired labour as possible. About 75% of Australian dairy farms hire no non-family labour.

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