Rotary bail cupping


2 min read

Platform design D-gate design D-gate design guidance Cups-on area Cups-on area design

Good platform design in dairy farming keeps both cows and people safe, while enhancing cow flow into the dairy. The page you read explains the benefits of designing platforms correctly, such as decreasing animal health costs by reducing injuries and increasing worker safety. It details specific requirements for the height, breast rail, and other aspects of the platform, as well as considerations for the D-gate and cups-on area design. Following these guidelines ensures the smooth operation of the dairy, the comfort of the workers, and the well-being of the cows.

Good platform design can help keep cows and people safe and it helps cow flow into the dairy.

The benefits of good platform design include:

  • Decreased animal health costs - good platform and pipework design will lower the incidence of cow injuries.
  • Increased worker safety and comfort - including ergonomics in the design of platforms will decrease injuries. Platforms and pipework which are designed correctly will position cows in a way that decreases the danger to milkers.

When designing the platform ensure...

  • Height should be between 850–1000 mm high (so forearms more-or-less horizontal when cupping).
  • Breast rail should be approximately 800mm high.
  • Feed bins if present should have their bases 200mm lower than the breast rail.
  • Gap between dummys (where clusters are hung) is minimum of 650mm.
  • Bail length is 1500-1650mm long (too long allows heifers to stand too far forward).
  • Safety switch for entering and exiting cows to prevent crushing (spring loaded for auto-restart).

D-gate design

The D-gate is positioned between the platform entry and platform exit. Its primary purpose is to protect cows that have not exited completely from being crushed.

When designing a D-gate ensure...

  • D-gate post is positioned approximately 500mm from the platform edge (length of gate).
  • It should open 90º in the direction of platform movement to allow a slow cow to exit safely
  • The gate should open 30º in the opposite direction, so a cow can push into bail early, thereby improving cow flow.

D-gate design.

Photo showing D-gate opening 30 degrees to give the cow more time to enter the bail.

Cow entering the bail before it is fully presented.

Cups-on area

It is important the cups-on area is well set up to maximise cow flow and provide a comfortable work environment for the milker.

Design cups-on area to ensure...

  • Control console (for backing gate, platform speed etc) is to the right side (left on clockwise rotaries) of the milker and orientated so that cows cannot see screens or flashing lights. Milker should be able to side step to use controls, without turning to face herd in the yard. Cows are less likely to walk towards a person facing them directly than if they keep their back turned towards the cow.
  • Milker is able to step backwards (towards the yard) alongside bridge (2m) to encourage cows on without having to look at them, it needs to be clear from obstructions (stairs, underpasses etc)
  • Slipway into yard from cups-on area is at least 2m from the bridge to prevent scaring cows on the bridge when milker enters the yard
  • There are wide concrete stairs for safety. Add a no-slip surface if required.
  • Use a mirror for checking cows in the yard and backing gate placement, rather than looking into or entering the yard (disrupting cows).

Cups-on area, good example.

Cups-on area, bad example.

Use a mirror for checking cows in the yard and backing gate placement.

Last updated: Sep 2023
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