Rotary routine


2 min read

Why improve milking efficiency? Creating a more efficient milking routine Efficiency troubleshooting Rotary animation example

Rotary milking systems have become popular due to increased milking efficiency in larger herds, and are now used by around 30% of dairy farms in New Zealand. In this overview you will learn how to improve the efficiency of your milking routine on farm.  This can make a huge difference to your farm’s overall efficiency. There are opportunities to save time in almost every rotary milking shed. Simple changes can save seconds per cow, and that soon adds up.  

Why improve milking efficiency?

Milking efficiency in a rotary is all about maximising the time that clusters are harvesting milk. To achieve this, it’s important to keep the cows loading and the platform rotating at a speed where the majority (80%) of cows have finished milking near the exit.

Shorter milkings can improve staff satisfaction, lessen mastitis and reduce lameness. You don’t have to wait until the end of the season to assess the impact of changes. If something hasn't worked, it's easy to change back at the next milking. Most changes are easy to put into action for little or no extra cost.

Creating a more efficient milking routine

  • Use an efficient cupping method to suit you and your clusters.
  • Cup cows standing as close to the bridge as possible to maximise the time the cluster is on the cow before the exit, and to help control cow flow.
  • Don’t stop or back the platform up to fill empty bails, keep the platform moving unless there is a risk of a cow or human getting hurt.
  • Set an appropriate platform speed, go as fast as the milker can comfortably cup.
  • End milking earlier by implementing a MaxT milking strategy.
  • Move the backing gate little and often to take up the free space in the yard and minimise gaps in cow flow.
  • Do not leave the cupping area to enter the yard unless you really need to.
  • Use exit signals to minimise the number of cows that stay on the platform after they have finished milking - train cows at the start of the season to leave the platform.

Efficiency troubleshooting

  • if you experience waiting during milking, start with milking duration.
  • if you are removing clusters with no milk visible in the sight glass, or ACRs are coming off before you get to them, start with milking routine.

In summary, many farmers have managed to make significant savings by adopting a routine that:

  • minimises missed bales and free-riders
  • ensures cows are cupped efficiently as soon as they are loaded
  • operates using appropriate rotation speeds.

Rotary animation example

Check out this animation comparing inefficient strategies with effective ones. Basically what you need to avoid, and what you need to do.

Rotary - efficient milking routine

Video 4:42 min

Last updated: Sep 2023
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