Modern mechanised milking parlours have come a long way since the days of hand milking into a bucket.
Milking cows has come a long way since the days of hand milking into a bucket. Today, milking parlours are highly mechanised, efficient and meticulously clean, with many using cutting edge technology.
There are many types of milking parlour. In Britain, the most common are:
Herringbone parlours, where the cows line up next to each other on two rows of raised platforms. The farmer moves up and down between the rows of cows attaching the milking machine from the side.
Rotary parlours, where the cow stands on a circular raised platform, allowing the farmer to attach the milking machine from below. The platform rotates very slowly, allowing one cow out and one cow in at regular intervals. Milking in rotary parlours is quicker than herringbone parlours, so is suitable for large farms with many cows.
Robotic parlours, which are entirely automated, allowing the cows to choose when she wants to be milked. The milking machines connect automatically to the cows' teats and turn off when the milking is complete. In these parlours, cows elect to be milked four to five times a day.
This does not necessarily mean that the cows are producing more milk, nor is it uncomfortable for them - calves naturally feed from their mother at four to six hourly intervals. Watch our video about robotic milking to find out more.
To ensure milk of the highest quality and to reduce the risk of infection of the cow's udder, the standards of hygiene and cleanliness in the parlour are extremely high. The cow's teats are cleaned before and after milking, and every part of the parlour and equipment is cleaned using hot water and detergent between each milking.
Find out about the tank storing the milk.