Swing Over Milking Parlours: Efficient and Cow-Friendly Milking Solutions

Milking parlours play a crucial role in dairy farming, facilitating the efficient and timely extraction of milk from cows. Among the various types of milking parlours available, swing-over milking parlours have gained significant popularity due to their practicality and convenience.

In this blog, we will explore swing-over milking parlours in depth, discussing their advantages, design features, installation, maintenance, factors to consider when choosing one, best practices, potential challenges, future trends, and more.

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Advantages of Swing-Over Milking Parlours

Swing-over milking parlours offer several advantages to dairy farmers, contributing to increased productivity and improved cow welfare. First and foremost, these parlours enhance milking efficiency by allowing the milker to access and milk cows from both sides without the need to reposition the animals. This streamlined process reduces milking time and increases throughput, enabling farmers to manage larger herds more effectively.

Furthermore, swing-over milking parlours require fewer labor resources compared to traditional milking parlours. With the ability to milk multiple cows simultaneously, farmers can efficiently handle more animals in less time. This time-saving aspect allows dairy farmers to allocate their labor force more effectively and focus on other essential tasks, such as herd management and animal care.

In addition to efficiency gains, swing-over milking parlours prioritise cow comfort and welfare. These parlours are designed to provide cows with a comfortable and stress-free milking experience. The animals can enter and exit the stalls easily, and their natural movement is not hindered during the milking process. By prioritising cow comfort, farmers can maintain healthy and contented animals, which, in turn, contribute to better milk production and overall herd well-being.

Moreover, swing-over milking parlours promote enhanced milking hygiene and udder health. The design of these parlours incorporates features that minimise the risk of cross-contamination and mastitis. Proper milking cluster technology, pulsation, and milking protocols ensure thorough milk extraction while maintaining udder health. The ability to monitor milk quality and analyse data further aids in early detection of potential issues, allowing prompt intervention and prevention of further problems.

Design and Features of Swing-Over Milking Parlours

Swing-over milking parlours come in various designs and offer a range of features tailored to meet specific farm requirements. The stall configurations and sizes can be customised to accommodate different cow sizes and breeds. This flexibility ensures optimal cow comfort during milking sessions, regardless of their physical characteristics.

Automated milking systems are often integrated into swing-over milking parlours, further improving efficiency and ease of operation. These systems take care of attaching and detaching milking clusters, allowing milkers to focus on other tasks, such as cleaning udders and monitoring cow behaviour. Automation also enables accurate measurement and analysis of milk yield, providing valuable insights into cow performance and health.

Pulsation and milking cluster technology are key components of swing-over milking parlours. The pulsation system ensures proper stimulation and milk letdown while maintaining cow comfort. Milking clusters, designed to mimic the calf’s suckling action, extract milk effectively and gently from the udder. The combination of these technologies ensures efficient milk removal while safeguarding udder health and preventing injury.

Additionally, swing-over milking parlours are equipped with milk measurement and analysis tools. These tools accurately measure the volume and quality of milk obtained from each cow. Farmers can monitor individual cow performance, detect changes in milk composition, and identify potential health issues at an early stage. The ability to analyse data empowers farmers to make informed decisions, optimise herd management, and improve overall milk production.

GT2: Swing-Over Milking Parlour Design

A noteworthy design is the BouMatic GT2 Milking Parlour. The GT2 combines the best of herringbone and parallel stalls in an affordable swing over parlour solution. Compact 76 cm stall spacing with front exit makes this stall design ideal for installing into narrow buildings. Parallel-style udder access provides efficient milking from the rear.

This 60 degree galvanised stall suspended on beams, is built with a 2” rump rail at a 13° angle. It is constructed with an integrated splash panel that protects both the operator and the milking equipment.

The GT2 has a Rugged design with robust two-inch pipe construction for a solid, long lasting milking parlour. The bolt-together construction provides quick, economical installation.

Learn more about the GT2 Milking Parlour.

GT2 Milking Parlour

Installation and Maintenance of Swing-Over Milking Parlours

Before installing a swing-over milking parlour, proper site preparation and construction considerations must be taken into account. The chosen location should provide sufficient space for the parlour, cow movement, and related infrastructure. Adequate access to electricity and plumbing services is essential for the operation of milking equipment and milk handling systems.

During the installation process, it is crucial to follow manufacturer guidelines and seek professional assistance if needed. Ensuring a well-constructed and properly installed milking parlour is essential for its long-term functionality and performance. Regular maintenance and cleaning procedures should be implemented to keep the swing-over milking parlour in optimal condition. Routine inspections, equipment lubrication, and replacement of worn-out parts are vital to prevent breakdowns and ensure uninterrupted milking operations.

In case of any technical issues, farmers should have a basic understanding of troubleshooting common problems that may arise with swing-over milking parlours. Regular training and familiarisation with the equipment will enable milkers to identify and resolve minor issues promptly. Timely action and preventive maintenance can significantly reduce downtime and associated productivity losses.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Swing-Over Milking Parlours

When selecting a swing-over milking parlour, several factors should be considered to ensure the chosen system aligns with farm requirements and long-term goals. The size of the herd and milking capacity are crucial considerations. The parlour should be capable of efficiently handling the number of cows in the herd, both currently and in the future, while allowing room for potential herd expansion.

Farm layout and available space also play a vital role in the selection process. The swing-over milking parlour should fit seamlessly into the existing infrastructure and allow for smooth cow movement. Space allocation for entry and exit points, waiting areas, and milk storage should be carefully planned to optimise workflow and minimise congestion.

Budget considerations are another important aspect. Swing-over milking parlours come with varying price tags depending on the features, automation level, and brand. It is essential to strike a balance between the initial investment and the long-term benefits and returns. Conducting a cost-benefit analysis, including factors such as labor savings, improved milk yield, and herd health, can help determine the overall value of the investment.

Lastly, future scalability and upgrade options should be considered. Dairy farming is an evolving industry, and technological advancements may bring new features and capabilities to swing-over milking parlours. Choosing a system that allows for future expansion or integration of additional technologies can provide flexibility and adaptability to meet changing farm needs.

Best Practices for Operating Swing-Over Milking Parlours

Operating swing-over milking parlours requires adherence to best practices to ensure optimal milking outcomes and cow well-being. Proper cow handling techniques are essential to minimise stress and ensure cows enter the parlour smoothly. Gentle and consistent handling, using low-stress stockmanship principles, can significantly reduce animal discomfort and improve milking efficiency.

Training and supervision of milkers are critical aspects of swing-over milking parlour operation. Milkers should receive comprehensive training on equipment operation, cow behaviour, milking protocols, and milk quality standards. Regular supervision and performance evaluation help maintain high milking standards and identify areas for improvement.

Regular equipment inspections and maintenance are crucial for the smooth functioning of swing-over milking parlours. Daily visual checks, routine lubrication, and scheduled part replacements should be carried out to prevent breakdowns and ensure equipment longevity. Farmers should also establish effective cleaning protocols to maintain milking hygiene and prevent bacterial contamination.

Milk quality and hygiene protocols should be strictly followed to safeguard both cow and consumer health. This includes proper pre-milking teat preparation, post-milking teat disinfection, and regular testing of milk samples for bacterial contamination. Adhering to established milk quality standards and regulations helps maintain a positive reputation and ensures marketability of the milk produced.

Potential Challenges and Solutions with Swing-Over Milking Parlours

While swing-over milking parlours offer numerous advantages, there can be challenges associated with their implementation and operation. One common challenge is cow adaptability and training. Some cows may initially resist or find it difficult to adapt to the new milking system. Proper training and acclimation periods are essential to ensure cows are comfortable and cooperative during the milking process. Gradual introduction and positive reinforcement techniques can help overcome this challenge.

Technical malfunctions and troubleshooting are another potential issue. Like any complex machinery, swing-over milking parlours can experience occasional breakdowns or technical glitches. Farmers should familiarise themselves with the operation of the equipment and have a basic understanding of troubleshooting common problems. Promptly contacting the manufacturer or seeking professional assistance can resolve more complex issues.

Minimising cross-contamination risks is critical for maintaining milk quality and udder health. Proper cleaning and sanitisation protocols must be followed after each milking session to prevent bacterial growth and the spread of diseases. Regular training and monitoring can ensure milking staff adhere to the established hygiene practices.

Consistent milk yield and udder health are important factors to monitor in swing-over milking parlours. Variations in milk yield or changes in udder health can indicate underlying issues, such as improper milking techniques, equipment malfunction, or cow health problems. Regular monitoring and analysis of milk production data, combined with visual udder inspections, can help identify and address these issues promptly.

Future Trends in Swing-Over Milking Parlours

As technology continues to advance, swing-over milking parlours are expected to undergo further enhancements and innovations. Integration of digital technologies and automation is a promising trend in the industry. Advanced cow monitoring systems, such as wearable devices and sensors, can provide real-time data on cow behaviour, health indicators, and milk production. This data can help farmers make data-driven decisions, optimise feed management, and detect early signs of disease or distress.

Sustainability and energy efficiency are also areas of focus for future swing-over milking parlour development. Incorporating energy-saving technologies, such as LED lighting and efficient vacuum systems, can reduce electricity consumption and minimise the environmental impact of milking operations. Water-saving initiatives and waste management strategies will further contribute to sustainable dairy farming practices.

Moreover, advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning may enable swing-over milking parlours to learn and adapt to individual cow behaviour and preferences. This level of customisation can lead to even higher milking efficiency and cow comfort, ultimately benefiting both the farmer and the animals.

In conclusion, swing-over milking parlours have revolutionised the way dairy farmers approach milking operations. These milking systems offer numerous advantages, including increased milking efficiency, reduced labor requirements, improved cow comfort and udder health, and enhanced milking hygiene. Proper installation, maintenance, and adherence to best practices are crucial for successful operation. Despite potential challenges, swing-over milking parlours continue to evolve, embracing new technologies, and promoting sustainability. With their ability to improve productivity and cow welfare, swing-over milking parlours remain a valuable asset to modern dairy farming.

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!


Are swing-over milking parlours suitable for small-scale dairy farms?

Yes, swing-over milking parlours can be tailored to accommodate farms of various sizes. They offer flexibility in stall configurations and can efficiently handle small to large herds.

Can swing-over milking parlours be retrofitted into existing milking parlours?

In some cases, retrofitting swing-over milking parlours into existing parlours may be possible. However, it depends on the specific layout and infrastructure of the current milking parlour. Consulting with milking parlour manufacturers or experts can provide guidance on retrofitting feasibility.

How long does it take for cows to adapt to swing-over milking parlours?

Cow adaptability to swing-over milking parlours varies. Some cows may adjust within a few days, while others may take longer. Proper training, gradual introduction, and positive reinforcement techniques can help facilitate a smooth transition.

Do swing-over milking parlours require additional maintenance compared to traditional milking parlours?

Swing-over milking parlours may require regular maintenance, such as equipment lubrication, part replacements, and cleaning procedures. However, with proper care and adherence to maintenance schedules, the additional maintenance required should not be significantly burdensome.

How can swing-over milking parlours contribute to milk quality improvement?

Swing-over milking parlours incorporate features and technologies that prioritise milking hygiene and udder health. Proper milking cluster technology, pulsation, and milking protocols help ensure thorough milk extraction while minimising the risk of bacterial contamination and mastitis. Accurate milk measurement and analysis tools also aid in monitoring milk quality, allowing for early detection of potential issues and prompt intervention.

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!