Getting the best out of your herringbone
The first step to improving efficiency in a herringbone is to ensure the cups are attached and are harvesting milk for the majority of milking. To achieve this, it's important to keep the process flowing, changing cups down each row with minimal interruption.
Many farmers have managed to make significant savings by adopting a routine that:
- eliminates unnecessary idle (waiting) time from the routine
- minimises distance walked/steps taken by the milker/s
- enables the exit gate to be opened at the earliest opportunity.
Key components to optimise herringbone efficiency
Good cupping technique
- To help reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury, milkers should learn and perfect a cupping technique that allows them to alternate hands from side to side of the pit.
- Milkers should aim to comfortably and consistently attach a cluster within 4 seconds.
Visit our cluster attachment page for videos and more info
Start cupping at the exit end
- Aim to cup the first cow in the row within 30 seconds of her being in position.
- Concentrate on cupping, and let the remainder of the cows row themselves up.
- A review of the routine may be needed if this is not happening.
Milker routine (for one, two or more milkers)
One milker routine
- Milk cows in batches of 5-8 (trial what works best for your dairy and your teat spray setup).
- Teat spray and complete any additional jobs as you work your way down the pit towards the bale area entry.
Two or more milker routine
- Work as a team. Make sure all employees know their place in routine.
- Use ‘bunny hopping’ routine and milk cows in batches of 5-10 (trial what is optimal for your dairy).
- Milkers take it in turns to teat spray batches of milked cows as they work their way down the pit towards the bale area entry.
- All milkers should start changing clusters in front of the point where the head gate is released. Doing this allows the exit gate to be opened soonest.
- When cups need to be changed all staff must change cups.
Take a look at our efficient milking routine page
Releasing the row - live dangerously
- Open exit gate after 50-75% of cups have been changed. Tip: Mark the rump rail to show when to open the exit gate.
- Aim to be changing and teat spraying the last cows as they begin to exit.
- When cows are exiting slowly, open exit gate early. Tip: Use foam marker on the last cow in the row to show when the exit gate needs to be shut.
Wash down under cows with clusters attached during milking
- Washing down should only be done on the side of the pit milking, i.e. wash under the cows that are being milked and have the cups on.
- Never hose down on the side cows are exiting or entering dairy as this can interrupt cow flow and risks contaminating teats.
Use the backing gate, moving it little but often
- Move the backing gate regularly to take up the space in yard and encourage cows to enter the dairy.
- To avoid wasted steps, make sure the switch for the backing gate can be controlled from at least two thirds of the pit.
Good use of meal feeders
- If you have meal feeders, ensure cows can eat the quantity fed in your targeted row time - too much feed will slow cow exit.
- To avoid wasted steps, make sure the switch for the feeder can be controlled at multiple points along the pit.
- If cows are slow to exit, open the exit gate earlier to compensate.
Next steps to greater efficiency
For more information on how to get the most out of your herringbone click on the links below.
Find out here what factors ensure your shed is operating efficiently.
How milkers work together will determine how many cows can be milked an hour, and an efficient milking routine is especially important in large herringbone systems.
The MaxT strategy can increase the number of cows milked an hour in many dairies, find out more here.
Making sure cows are comfortable while entering and exiting the dairy as well as during milking, will have big benefits for cow flow and efficiency.