Advantages and Disadvantages of Herringbone Milking Parlours

Herringbone milking parlours are a popular choice for dairy farmers worldwide. They offer several advantages and disadvantages compared to other milking parlour systems. Understanding these pros and cons can help farmers make informed decisions when selecting the most suitable milking parlour system for their farm.

In this blog, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of herringbone milking parlours in detail.

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Herringbone milking parlours are designed to streamline the milking process by allowing multiple cows to be milked simultaneously in a diagonal or herringbone pattern. The cows stand on an elevated platform, angled to the operator’s pit, providing easy access to the udder. This design offers numerous benefits for both the cows and the farmers.

Advantages of Herringbone Milking Parlours

Efficient Milking Process

One of the significant advantages of herringbone milking parlours is the efficiency they bring to the milking process. With cows positioned at an angle, the milker has excellent visibility of the udder and teats, making it easier to attach milking machines. This improved visibility reduces the time taken for each milking session, resulting in higher throughput and productivity.

Increased Cow Comfort

Cow comfort is a top priority for dairy farmers, and herringbone milking parlours excel in this area. The angled platform provides a comfortable and natural standing position for the cows during milking. Additionally, the design allows for sufficient space between each cow, reducing the likelihood of them kicking or stepping on one another. Comfortable cows are generally more relaxed during milking, leading to improved milk letdown and overall udder health.

Ease of Access for Milking

Herringbone milking parlours offer excellent accessibility for milkers. The diagonal layout allows for easy access to the udder from both sides, eliminating the need to reach across the cow or switch positions. This ergonomic advantage reduces strain on the milker’s body and minimises the risk of repetitive stress injuries.

Enhanced Milk Quality and Udder Health

The efficient milking process and cow comfort provided by herringbone milking parlours contribute to improved milk quality and udder health. When cows are calm and comfortable, they are less likely to experience stress-related issues that could impact milk production or udder health. The ease of access and visibility in herringbone parlours also facilitate better udder preparation and cleanliness, reducing the risk of mastitis and other udder-related diseases.

Time and Labour Savings

Herringbone milking parlours can save farmers valuable time and labor. The simultaneous milking of multiple cows reduces the overall time spent on milking sessions. With efficient workflows and streamlined processes, farmers can allocate their labor resources more effectively. This time-saving advantage allows farmers to focus on other critical farm tasks and ultimately enhances the overall farm productivity.

Improved Cow Flow and Management

Cow flow and management are vital aspects of any dairy farm operation. Herringbone milking parlours promote a smooth cow flow, as the angled platform naturally encourages cows to move in and out of the parlour. This efficient flow helps reduce cow stress and enables farmers to manage their herds more effectively. Additionally, herringbone parlours allow for convenient cow identification and individual cow attention during milking.

Disadvantages of Herringbone Milking Parlours

While herringbone milking parlours offer numerous advantages, there are also some disadvantages that farmers should consider before choosing this system.

Initial Setup and Investment Costs

The initial setup and investment costs of herringbone milking parlours can be relatively high. The construction and installation of the angled platform, pit, and associated equipment require significant investment. Farmers need to consider their budget and long-term goals when deciding on the suitability of herringbone parlours for their farm.

Limited Space for Expansion

Herringbone parlours generally require a specific layout and space configuration. If expansion plans are part of the long-term farm strategy, the limited space available for additional parlours may become a constraint. Farmers should carefully assess their future growth prospects and ensure that herringbone parlours align with their expansion plans.

Maintenance and Equipment Challenges

As with any milking parlour system, herringbone parlours require regular maintenance and attention to ensure optimal performance. The angled platform and associated equipment may present specific maintenance challenges compared to other systems. Farmers need to be prepared for routine maintenance tasks and potential equipment repairs.

Potential for Cow Discomfort

While herringbone milking parlours aim to provide cow comfort, individual cow preferences and behaviour can vary. Some cows may not adapt well to the angled platform or may experience discomfort during milking. Farmers should closely monitor cow behaviour and welfare indicators to ensure that all cows are comfortable and stress-free in the parlour.

Lower Milking Capacity Compared to Other Systems

Herringbone parlours generally have a lower milking capacity compared to parallel or rotary systems. The number of cows that can be milked simultaneously is limited by the space and configuration of the angled platform. Farmers with large herds may need to consider the impact on milking efficiency and labor requirements when opting for herringbone parlours.

Factors to Consider when Choosing a Milking Parlour System

When selecting a milking parlour system for a dairy farm, several factors should be taken into account:

  1. Farm size and herd capacity: The number of cows to be milked and the size of the farm will influence the suitable parlour system.
  2. Available space and infrastructure: The farm’s layout and existing infrastructure should be considered to ensure compatibility with the chosen parlour system.
  3. Labor requirements and efficiency goals: The availability of labor and the desired level of automation should align with the chosen parlour system.
  4. Budget and investment considerations: The financial resources available for the parlour system and associated equipment should be evaluated.
  5. Cow behaviour and welfare considerations: The behaviour and welfare of the cows are crucial for productivity and animal well-being. The chosen parlour system should prioritise cow comfort and minimise stress during milking.

Examples of Excellent Herringbone Milking Parlour Designs

An example of an ideal herringbone milking parlour design is the BouMatic GT2.

The GT2 is an exceptional parlour solution that combines the finest aspects of herringbone and parallel stalls. Featuring a compact design with a front exit, it is specifically designed for narrow buildings. The stall is a 60-degree galvanised structure suspended on beams, boasting a 2″ rump rail at a 13° angle. The integrated splash panel ensures protection for both the operator and the milking equipment.

GT2 Herringbone milking parlour interior

Learn More About The BouMatic GT2

All our designs can be customised and made bespoke to your dairy farm. Enquire more about our Herringbone Milking Parlours and how they can help improve your farm’s productivity and costs by using the button below!

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Herringbone milking parlours offer significant advantages in terms of efficiency, cow comfort, access, milk quality, time and labor savings, and cow flow management. However, they also come with disadvantages such as initial setup costs, limited space for expansion, maintenance challenges, potential cow discomfort, and lower milking capacity. It is crucial for dairy farmers to carefully evaluate their farm’s specific needs and goals before choosing a milking parlour system. Considering factors like farm size, available space, labor resources, budget, and cow welfare will help make an informed decision that maximises productivity and animal well-being.

At Electromech Agri, we are leading experts in everything dairy farm equipment and supplies. Learn our complete range of milking parlours or if you have a question feel free to contact us!

This post is part of our learning centre. Content designed for new farmers or those looking to learn more about milking parlours and the industry. If this something you’re interested, check our Learning Centre!


  1. Are herringbone milking parlours suitable for all types of dairy farms? Herringbone milking parlours are suitable for many dairy farms, but their suitability depends on factors such as farm size, available space, and cow behaviour. It’s essential to assess individual farm requirements before making a decision.
  2. Can herringbone milking parlours be upgraded or expanded in the future? The limited space for expansion should be considered when opting for herringbone milking parlours. If expansion is part of the long-term plan, it’s crucial to evaluate the potential constraints and plan accordingly.
  3. How often should the equipment in herringbone milking parlours be maintained? Regular maintenance is necessary to ensure optimal performance of herringbone milking parlours. The frequency of maintenance tasks may vary, but it’s generally recommended to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and conduct routine inspections.
  4. Are there any specific cow breeds that are more suitable for herringbone milking parlours? Herringbone milking parlours can be suitable for various cow breeds. However, it’s important to consider the size and behaviour of the cows when selecting a parlour system to ensure their comfort and ease of milking.
  5. Can herringbone milking parlours be automated? Yes, herringbone milking parlours can be automated to some extent. Automation can help improve efficiency and reduce labor requirements. However, the level of automation depends on the specific system and technology implemented.