7 January 2000

Mobile parlour just the job during re-fit works

Hiring a mobile milking

parlour as a stopgap while a

new permanent parlour is

installed, has proven to be

ideal solution for one Lancs

milk producer.

Andy Moore reports

THE prospect of milking 90 cows in a half-gutted herringbone parlour while the other half was being renovated had little appeal for Stephen Robinson who farms near Cantsfield, Lancs.

"Using just one side of a 5/10 parlour would have virtually doubled the milking times – and yields would have probably reduced as a result," says Mr Robinson. "We clearly needed a temporary parlour which would not affect milking duration and maintain yields during the renovation of our 30-year-old parlour."

The solution came in the form of a 9/18 mobile milking parlour, hired out at £350/week from Mobile Milking Services, based near Penrith, Cumbria.

Measuring 15m (50ft) long, the mobile unit was transported to Mr Robinsons farm on a low loader lorry in mid-November, assembled and parked on a concrete area alongside his existing parlour.

The mobile parlour takes the form an elevated steel frame structure, mounted on 15 legs and contains two parallel passages. Each passage is accessed via ramps at either of the unit – two at the exit and two at the entrance – plus an in-between ramp for operators.

Operating as a direct-to-line system, the parlour is supplied with an existing vacuum line, milk and wash line, pulsation and air blast wash system.

Mr Robinson had to provide his own connecting vacuum pump/ pipes, hot water, clusters, teat spraying and dipping facilities – all of which are plumbed into existing apparatus in the permanent parlour – including the bulk tank. The mobile parlour also requires a 240v electrical supply and lighting.

"Parlour set-up was an easy operation and took an electrician and engineer about half a day, costing about £150," explains Mr Robinson. "Because our Holstein herd is used to a herringbone parlour, it only took them about three days to acclimatise."

The expected fall in milk yield due to the change over of facilities was relatively small and only lasted for a few days. Familiarity with a herringbone parlour, he claims, made the transition a lot easier – it might have been different if we had been using an "abreast" parlour.

Mr Robinson says milking can be completed in about an hour and a half for each morning and evening session – it took over two hours in his old parlour.

"Time is saved due to the parlours extra capacity and the direct-to-line design, allowing milk to be pumped directly to the bulk tank," he explains. "Our old system required milk to be individually emptied from jars." &#42

From inside to outside… The 15m (50ft) mobile parlour from Mobile Milking Services offers a 32deg 9/18 herringbone design. Milk producer Stephen Robinson (inset) claims the mobile parlour is able to milk his 90 cows in about an hour and a half at each milking session twice a day.