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The Daily Bale
Natasha Post, Author
In the U.S., the dairy industry includes farms, cooperatives, and companies that produce milk, cheese, and other dairy products, as well as companies that manufacture and distribute equipment such as milking machines.
Dairy farming is an agricultural practice used for long-term milk production. Once the milk is collected, it needs further processing before the eventual sale. Dairy products consisting of milk are either pasteurized or homogenized. Everyday processed dairy in the U.S. includes skim milk, buttermilk, whole milk, evaporated milk, and powdered milk. These products are used to make cheeses, butter, ice creams, yogurts, frozen desserts, and baked items. Processing can take place at the farm or taken to a dairy plant.
" Dairy products consisting of milk are either pasteurized or homogenized. "
In 2017, the United States was responsible for 11.81% of the world’s total milk production, second only to that of India, which is responsible for 21.29%. The top five dairy states in the U.S. in order of milk production are California, Wisconsin, New York, Idaho, and Texas. Dairy farming is also a big industry in Florida, Ohio, Vermont, and Minnesota.
Across the United States, there are more than 40,000 dairy farms. Farms located on the West Coast and in the Southwest are typically more extensive, with many farms housing approximately 1,200 cows or more. Herd sizes across other areas of the U.S. are smaller, with farms housing an average of 50 cows. Between all of the farms in the U.S., there’s a significant need for dairy farming equipment and milk transport.
Overview of Milking Equipment
Milking equipment is one of the critical components of dairy farm equipment. There are four main categories: general-purpose milking equipment, milk cooling, and storage, equipment, equipment that improves cow comfort, and miscellaneous barn and transport equipment, such as milk trucks and wash vats. Some of the most common milking equipment used to increase the efficiency of dairy farming include automatic milk detachers and teat spray robots (TSR). When it comes to milk cooling and storage, there are closed-loop water systems, mat vats, plate coolers, tanks, and silos.
Many dairy farmers will work to enhance the well being of their dairy herd with numerous pieces of equipment. Fans, activity systems, holding pen cooling equipment, misting equipment, sort gates, and cow-activated brush systems, ensure the cows are occupied, kept cool, and clean.
In the 80s and 90s, robotic milking systems were first developed and introduced. Today, thousands of robotic milking arrangements are in routine operation across intensive dairy farms in the U.S. and beyond. Within these systems, cows have a high level of autonomy and can choose their milking times freely. When cows enter the milking unit, they are fed and scanned to record production data.
Common Milking Parlor Designs
The four most common milking parlor setups include the following designs:
As the name suggests, in a parallel milking parlor, cows stand parallel to one another. This setup leaves one access point for the milkers at the rear. Once all the stalls are filled, the milking process begins. Within approx. 10 minutes all cows are milked, and then exit the parlor one at a time. In tandem milking, cows are nose to tail, and there is a side-on vantage. Cows can be released one at a time and aren’t held up by slow-moving members of the herd. Herringbone is the most versatile milking parlor design used, particularly for farms with small herds. A wider variety of equipment can be used in this parlor pattern. Rotary parlors have circular carousels that reduce the need for milkers to consistently walk around the room to check, attach, or release cows and equipment.
Farm Equipment Regularly Used by Dairy Farmers
When it comes to equipment utilized by dairy farmers, it’s not just about the milking. Additional farm equipment is required to harvest, store, and transport dairy fodder, as well as produce energy for the dairy farming process. Often, large generators are needed to supply power to all of the milking equipment and environmental controls, as well as:
- Fodder trucks
- Fodder compacting presses
- Fodder block machines
- Mud pumps
- Fodder mills
- Fodder chaff cutters
- Feed baskets
- Loader tractors
- Feed grinders
- Milk cans
- Motorized bore wells
- Tagging equipment