Parlours with sequential stalling, or bailing, are attracting increasing interest from producers. GEA Farm Technologies has installed two in the UK and one in Ireland.
Tom Steel is getting the benefit of faster milking and the ability of the Dairyplan Herd Management system to control in parlour feeding following the installation of a 26/52 sequential stalling parlour by GEA dealership, DairyFlow.
The GEA parlour at Stafflar Farm, Symington, Kilmarnock, was the first in the UK to be fitted. How it works is that each cow has a small sequential gate which swings around as the cow turns to 80 degrees and this allows the next cow space to open up.
One of the big advantages is that when the cows walk in they can’t access the feed trough until they are loaded and turned round to the right angle which helps the dairyman getting to the udder.
Tom is the third generation of his family to farm at Stafflar which runs to 650 acres. His father, William still lends a hand and Tom’s brother Alexander and Fred Currie both work on the farm.
Previously, the herd was Holstein but Tom has switched his breeding policy to a ‘mid range’ type of cow by cross-breeding principally Swedish Red with Friesian and Montbeliarde with good milk solids which Ayrshire based buyer Sorn Milk pays a premium for.
His aim is to make as much milk from grazed grass as the weather allows – this year’s grazing period ran from April to October – and help cut the ever-variable concentrate bill.
Yields are probably at an optimum running at 7,800 litres at 4.4% butterfat and 3.3% protein on two times a day milking. The cows are fed to yield in the parlour to a maximum of 8kg of 18% protein 13 ME cake, averaging 5kg a day.
“We were running 200 cows and we kept all the young stock and finished them on the farm,” said Tom. “The old 10 aside parlour was needing to be replaced and we decided to replace the parlour, increase cow numbers and sell the calves store which means we don’t have to grow cereals.
“I decided to go for a parlour rather than looking at robots because of wanting to maximise the use of grazed grass. Also the location of the farm with a public road at one side and a large mains water pipe at the other gave little to expand the buildings and for cows to have access from grazing to a robot.
“I would have considered a rapid exit parlour but because the new 300ft by 50ft building is in between two existing sheds, space would not allow it.”
The new building includes a collecting yard and 3 way sorting gate with pens for AI and foot trimming.
After looking at parlours with sequential bailing installed by an-other manufacturer and several GEA units in Germany with Dair-yFlow’s sales manager Scott Baird and being impressed by the cow flow and technology, Tom made his decision to go with the GEA system.
“If you are feeding in a herringbone parlour, when cows come in they can’t resist the concentrate in the trough and don’t go into the right stall. But with the sequential stalling the cows walk straight through to their place and then there is a delay of 30 seconds, which can be adjusted, before the concentrate is delivered into the trough which is one single length.
“After milking, the metal gate rises above the cows and there is enough room for two cows to walk out. It takes one and a half hours for each milking with two people in the parlour, an hour quicker than the previous old parlour and probably half an hour quicker than a modern standard parlour.
He says the cows took a little time to adjust to the new parlour but now there is no hesitation when they walk in quickly up to the nose rail.
Each cow has an ankle strap with a pedometer which also provides the Auto Identification as the cows enter the parlour. The pedometer reads the cows activity and will alert Tom on the computer if it is in heat. The milk yield and conductivity can also be viewed as these are both read through the ICAR approved milk meter and sent to back to the computer.
Herd numbers are set to expand to around 300 with the number of cows put to the dairy bull increasing to three quarters of the herd and the remainder to the British Blue bull.
GEA Parlours with sequential bailing are available in any size and can be fitted with or without feeding. The system is hydraulically operated which is very quiet and reliable with no daily maintenance.
This type of stalling is suitable for doubled up and swing over parlours and there is a choice of 80 degrees of 60 degrees with side or front exit and 700, 750 or 800mm spacings to suit different cow sizes.