I realised there’s something missing from this blog about the daily life of a dairy farmer and that’s the one job that must be done twice a day, every day: milking! So, here’s a pic of the spot where it all happens. Ours is what’s called a herringbone dairy. The cows stand on platforms on either side of the pit with their tails facing us. Each cow has a stall to herself to make sure she isn’t squashed or bossed off her feed by bigger or more dominant cows.
Our dairy has 32 sets of milking machines, so we can have 16 cows on each side and is equipped with automatic cup removers (those orange cylinders overhead) that take the machines off when the flow of milk decreases. This is a labour-saving device that also means there’s less risk of cows being over-milked. The curly blue cords hanging down are dispensers for a mix of iodine and glycerine that we spray on the cows’ teats to keep them soft, crack-free and hygienic.
At the nose of each cow is a bail that holds grain for her to eat while she’s being milked. It’s a nice way of helping cows enjoy their time in the dairy and ensures nobody misses out on her ration of supplementary (that is, additional to grass) high-energy, high-protein feed. We control the amount of grain that’s dispensed with a timer dial on the white box overhead at the centre of the pit.
You’ll also see a whiteboard near Zoe. We write notes on this about which cow needs treatment, with what, and for how long.
I took this pic without cows because it’s nice and light that way but am working on a video to show you what happens when the dairy’s in action. Let me know if there’s anything you particularly want to see.