19 May 1995

Milking on the move

A MOBILE 20-cow herringbone parlour based on a 12m (40ft) low-loader is not perhaps every ones idea of the perfect milking arrangement.

But when a Northumberland farm was installing a new fixed parlour last year the system became something of a life saver.

Based at North Doddington, near Wooler, the Maxwell family runs a 250-cow herd and setting up a new milking parlour without any interruption to milking routine posed a severe problem. Time to fit Bobby Maxwells own design for a 20/40 swingover unit into the existing parlour meant an alternative milking plant was required.

"Our options were to construct half of the new parlour at a time – and continue to use the other half for milking – or buy a simple milking bail and get the conversion done quickly,"says Mr Maxwell.

"Neither of those options was ideal and we decided to build our own mobile milking parlour so there would be plenty of time to make the best possible job of the new unit."

A 12m low-loader chassis, procured from a local scrap metal merchant, formed the base of the mobile milking parlour and, with the free advice and wisdom of just about everyone in the area, the Maxwells set about designing and building the unit.

"We built it to hold 20 cows at a time with 10 milking units and housed it in a shed beside the dairy buildings so we could use the existing vacuum and power lines and the bulk tank," explains Mr Maxwell.

With the completion of the new static parlour, the mobile milking parlour is now redundant. The intention is now to sell or hire the unit to another dairy farm.

where major construction work is being contemplated.