How two milkers work together will decide the overall work routine time and how many cows can be milked in an hour.
The benefits of an efficient milking routine include:
- speeding up the milking process.
- reducing the stress on people and animals.
The most efficient system is when the head gate can be released in the shortest time after clusters are attached.
The animated video below explains the most efficient method for milking cows in a herringbone dairy.
Inefficient routine - territorial or zone method
This is where one milker starts at the front half of the pit and the other starts at the back of the pit.
- As cows are loading, only one milker can start attaching clusters - the second milker can’t begin until the row is fully loaded.
- The cows in the middle of the row are the last to have their clusters attached so will probably be the last to finish, stopping the release of the head gate until most clusters have been swung over.
- Dividing the pit in half with one milker starting in front and the second from the middle is an improvement because the head gate can be released earlier.
Efficient routine - bunny hopping method
The bunny hopping method is where one milker walks up the pit with the first batch of cows and begins attaching clusters. The second follows suit.
Cows continue to load the last part of the row by themselves and the milkers continue cupping on their way down the row in batches of about 4-6 cows, depending on the position of teat sprayers.
This method allows the head gate to be released much earlier. Releasing the head gate early minimises the time spent waiting for the row to exit because cows are exiting at the same time as the milkers are swinging over the remaining clusters.
To get the most out of the bunny hopping method, a well-designed shed with good cow flow is needed. More detail can be found on the Herringbone Design pages.