Poorly designed entries can have a negative impact on cow welfare and cause stress for handlers.
Rotary entry design considerations
- Safe, reliable footing is essential so cows can move confidently. Scabbling or grooving the surface if slippery is an option.
- The slope of the entrance to the dairy should not exceed 4% (1 in 25).
- The milking area should be open to sunlight if possible. Cows moving from a sunny outside holding yard may hesitate at the entrance if it is much darker inside.
- Sharp, dark shadows across the concrete can be interpreted by cows as a barrier, causing them to pause before crossing.
- When it is dark, make sure cows do not have to look into bright lights as they approach the dairy entrance.
- Cow entrances and exits should be clear and wide. Clear platform areas are best for good cow movement.
Although not essential, a single file entry race can help cow flow. Less dominant cows are more likely to enter of their own accord as they cannot be bullied by other cows. When designing an entry race, make sure of the following:
Cows walk onto the platform in single file
The entry race should be at least one cow in length (approx. 2m). Two cow lengths (3m) are beneficial if you need to slow cows down for electronic ID systems or feeding in-bail.
A slightly flared entry from the yard
This allows the next cows in from the yard to encourage the cows in front onto the platform.
This reduces slippery surfaces - there can be considerable pushing in the entry area.
No places cow can hurt themselves
Pipework should be flush across cow contact surfaces (horizontal pipes on the cow-side of vertical posts for example).