John Glover currently milks
65 cows plus followers on a
40ha (100-acre) county
council holding near
having recently moved from
another 20ha (51-acre)
county council farm.
WE FINALLY moved the milking cows on Oct 30. By lunchtime they were in their new housing and able to settle down before milking in a strange parlour.
The two systems are totally different; in the old set-up cows were cubicle housed, and milked in an abreast parlour, in the new one cows are loose housed and milked through a 10:20 herringbone parlour with ACRs.
We were surprised how easily the cows went through the parlour that first night; the worst part was getting cows through the door into the building which houses the collecting yard and parlour. With four of us milking – two in the pit and two to drive them in – and two parlour fitters and two electricians to supervise, it took about 40 minutes to milk the 51 cows, even though we do not feed in the parlour.
We tried parlour feeding in June as an experiment – the idea was to have a trial run before we moved. It is surprising how quickly the cows adapt and how well they stand. We decided to stop feeding for two reasons. Firstly since we bought a diet feeder 18 months ago the high yielding cows we wanted to eat the dairy cake would leave most of it and then the stale cows would clean up 3-4kg instead; the second reason was down to me. I could not resist the temptation to over feed certain cows. Another benefit we found is that the parlour was easier to clean and, with no feed about, does not attract vermin into the parlour.
In the last few days before we left, Martin, the new tenant, started to milk a few cows along with mine. These cows were fed cake and as my cows knew it was there they were most unsettled to milk, I bet that Martin is still over feeding his best cow (Norma) though.
To compensate for no parlour feeding we increased the number of litres we fed for out-of-the-parlour. This worked well as the rolling yield peaked at over 8200kg this summer. However some cows got fat and were cashed in before August for between £500-£660 each – those were the days.
We have still not finished building yet and may have to manage this winter with the cows as one milking group, although I would like to feed the low yielders separately to stop them getting fat.n
John Glover was surprised at how well the cows adapted from cubicles and an abreast parlour to loose housing and a herringbone parlour after their move on Oct 30.