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Achieving Efficient Milking Systems in New Zealand

Friday, 28 September 2018 at 1:41pm

It is often said that the even the smallest change in the dairy shed can help improve milk profitability.  Over the years we have seen how more efficients systems have helped optimise the use of equipment and labour resources to get the best from the milk harvesting system.

An efficient milking system has many benefits:

  • Increased labour productivity, allowing reallocation of saved time.

  • Reduced stress on cows leading to faster milking out and more milk.

  • Reduction in cow health and welfare issues.

  • Improved working environment leading to improved worker satisfaction and retention.


As herd sizes in New Zealand continue to grow, the need for efficient milking becomes even greater. DairyNZ have produced a number of helpful guides that let you assess your current milking system, guide you through a process to improve your current milking efficiency and explain various strategies that can improve your milking efficiency.

Here are some examples:


Farm Dairy Assessment -

The Farm Dairy Assessment is a benchmarking tool that Dairy farmers can use to measure the efficiency of their milking sheds. To make improvements we first need to measure current performance. The farm dairy assessment allows you to complete a simple timing exercise during milking and provides you with a report showing your current milking performance and then compares this with other farmers around the country.


Herringbone Sheds -

The herringbone is the most common dairy type in New Zealand, in 2013 72% of dairy farms were registered as Herringbone.  The principles that determine the performance are:

• Work routine time of the operator(s)

• Milking time of the slowest cow in the row

• Number of clusters


Efficient Milking Routine -

An efficient milking routine is especially important in large herringbone systems that require two milkers.  How two milkers work together will decide the overall work routine time and how many cows can be milked in an hour.

The benefits of an efficient milking routine include:

  • speeding up the milking process.

  • reducing the stress on people and animals.


Rotary -

The rotary is the second most common milking system in New Zealand and represents 27% of milking sheds. It costs more to build than a herringbone but in the last decade has become more popular due to its efficiency in milking larger herds. 44% of the national herd is milked in a rotary.  The main benefit of the rotary milking system is that when working well, it can milk large herds in a labour efficient manner.


Operating efficiently is an important part of maintaining a profitable dairy business and as herd sizes continue to grow, the need for efficient milking becomes even greater.

Check out the DairyNZ website for more helpful guides.