Quality, reliable labor can be hard to come by. Whether your labor force is family or outside labor, the right milking equipment and technology upgrades can help your parlor run smoothly, making it easier to attract and retain employees.
Upgrades can be as simple as new liners, milking claws, and detachers, or as big as new parlor stalls or a full parlor retrofit. Or, they could include adding new technology like milk meters, automated cow-prep, and automated post-dipping. Consider your greatest needs to prioritize which upgrade is right for you.
Focus on your biggest opportunities
When prioritizing what to upgrade first, think about your management goals and how you want to manage your farm in the future to identify your greatest area of opportunity.
Could you manage your herd better with daily per-cow milk data? Milk meters provide production data for every cow at each milking – allowing you to keep a closer eye on individual cows. For example, finding cows that drop in milk could help identify and treat sick cows sooner, something you can’t do with monthly test data. Many milk meters also contain a sensor to measure milk conductivity, helping detect mastitis sooner leading to a faster and higher cure rate. You can also use the data to group cows by milking speed to maximize parlor efficiency.
Are you looking to cut parlor labor? Consider adding a teat prep system or an automated dipping system. Teat prep systems allow you to milk more cows/hour, milk the same number of cows with less labor, or add cows without additional labor. Herds using teat prep systems experience more consistency and efficiency in cow prep across employees, resulting in cleaner teats, fewer mastitis cases, and lower SCC. Automated dipping saves labor by eliminating the need for an employee to dip cows.
Would automating milking unit removal make you more efficient? Detachers ensure milking units come off when a cow completes milking. They eliminate overmilking by stopping milking at the optimum time, resulting in healthier udders and more efficient milking. If you already use a detacher system, consider the age of your system. There are many old detachers in use today, which aren’t working properly and can’t be finetuned because the technology is too outdated. New detacher technology can make a big difference in your parlor routines.
Are you milking in an older system and struggling to maintain it? Consider the time you invest in maintaining your system to keep it running. Many older parlor systems, 20 to 25 years and older, were built for cows milking 60 pounds per day, not today’s cows knocking on the 100-pound door. They can’t handle that volume of milk flowing through like new systems.
Newer systems have more capacity, are more cow-friendly, and have modern features that provide more data to help you make better management decisions.
Work with your milking equipment dealer to prioritize upgrades to meet your farm’s goals today and in the future. They can help you determine what will work best with your current milking system and management style. Don’t overlook getting any outside perspective, too – tour other dairy farms and talk to other farmers using similar technology.