- You can see very little of your cows and you can't 'bump them' to check for pregnancies.
- Training your cows to use a Parallel, especially cows coming out of stanchion barns, is darn difficult, considerably more difficult than training them to use a HerringBone.
- You can't easily inject Oxytocin.
The People and Ergonomic Factors
- You can't use Arm TakeOffs in a Parallel. Teat cups, therefore are jerked off under residual vacuum virtually all of the time.
- Unit positioning, good unit positioning, is difficult, resulting in more squawks and fall-offs, which you then need to chase after and correct. Talking about less walking in the Parallel!
- It's more difficult to attach milkers on late lactation heifers. When she's done, the detacher jerks the claw and teat cups back out between those dirty legs.
- What causes squawking? More than anything its the weight of the hose bundle - the milk & pulsation hose - on the rear teats. In a Parallel you either ignore it, in which case you get a ferocious number of squawks, or you get yourself some hose support device, which you then have to adjust for every single cow.
- In a HerringBone with ArmTakeOffs the whole discussion is mute. The hose bundle is always supported in the best possible position.
Our industry made great progress throughout the 70s and 80s toward ever friendlier, easier to operate, cleaner and highly productive Milking Parlors.
Parallels showed up in the late 80s and - supported and promoted by well paid University 'Consultants' - set all that progress right back to the stone age of the 50s and 60s.
15 years ago dairies in NY and Michigan made it all the way to 1 person operated dbl. 20 parlors, milking form 120 to 150 cows per man/hr, which continues to this very day.
Recently (in late 2008) I listened in on an on-site training session near Madison by a young, sharp and entirely with-it Consultant. He actually convinced the Owner and the Milkers that a dbl. 8 parlor with Arm TakeOffs could NOT be operated by one person. "Yep, takes two of them!" Put differently, he said in so many words..."Here in Wisconsin we can be comfortable handling a dbl. 4 with one milker", milking may be 30 to 35 cows/man hr at best.
Just think about that for a minute!
It is the worst condemnation of Wisconsin Dairymen and the capabilities of their milkers.
That mentality, the Parallel Mentality, cost Midwestern Dairymen several billion dollars in unnecessary labor cost over the last 15 years.*
Dr. Dave Galton, Cornell University, published a paper in the middle 90s, on the Cost of Milking/ctw. He came up with a range of $.30 for large one-person HerringBones to around $1.- for multi-milker other parlors.
Put differently, assuming you were to milk 3 x around the clock, that second and unnecessary milker in the parlor costs you $120,000/yr.
If one Milker "can comfortably operate a dbl. 4" then it takes 3 of them for a dbl 12, (4) for a dbl. 16 and (5) for a dbl 20. Each of them represents (4) additional employees on the payroll (3X milking plus a full time relief per milker) or 16 more guys you have to find, hire, train and supervise. At a cost of $30,000 per that's a cool $500,000/yr. Easy money to come by in this wonderful year of 2009...
Ridiculous examples? Don't blame me. Talk to that young, sharp and entirely with-it Consultant - and dozens of others like him.
Parallels have divider gates with springs and bearings that wear out and are expensive to replace. Not only are the parts expensive ($100 to $500 each depending on brand and model) but it also the labor to replace them at $65 to $85/hr.
Claws wear out
Germania and Germania-style all-stainless Top Outlet Claws last darn near forever in a HerringBone with Arm TakeOffs.
Not in a Parallel. They hit the floor about 35% of the time on retract. After several years of dragging across the concrete floor there's nothing left of the lower edges of the claw barrels. You can no longer change windows or gaskets. Pitch them.and buy new ones. Understood, if you buy plastic claws they wear out that much sooner.
Together, that's about $500 to $750 per stall guaranteed cost somewhere between 10 and 15 years in the future, in addition to the day to day cost of maintaining a Parallel.
- You end up selling your 1,800 + lbs cows because they simply will not adapt to a Parallel, any Parallel, regardless of brand or model. There just isn't enough room for them. Ask any dairyman with a Parallel about his 1,800 + lbs cows and the answer is always the same."They eliminate themselves from the herd."
An interesting case history from personal experience: In the early 90s Braum Dairy, Tuttle OH, was milking 6,000 cows thru (4) Dbl. 20s with no-Arm Detachers. In 1992 they installed (4) dbl. 50s to milk 12,000 cows 3x with Germania Model SB Arm TakeOffs. According to Bill Braum, Workmen's Compensation Premiums declined by $1,000,000/year due to reduced Carpal Tunnel claims. (To make the math come out you need to know that they have around 10,000 employees converting 40,000 acres of alfalfa into ice cream cones sold thru some 300 Braum retail stores.)
- Milking in a Parallel is dirty work - after all, she dispenses her blessing from right above where you are milking. In a HerringBone you milk over here and she dispenses over there.
- It's tough prepping udders and attaching machines on late lactation heifers - there is not enough space between those close-together back legs.
- According to Dr. Doug Reineman of the University of Wisconsin milking in a people-friendly HerringBone has it's benefits. Fewer back aches and lower occurrences of Carpal Tunnel syndrome, among others.
The Quality-of-Milking Factor
*Several Billions? Do the math:
Assumptions (All of them mine and open to discussion….)
>There are 20,000 dairies in the Upper Midwest >5,000 of which have parlors >Milking an average 300 cows 2.5 X (some 3 X, some 2 X) >With dbl. 10 parlors (Dbl. 4 to dbl 40) >With two milkers per shift (plus one on the outside, which we don’t count for this exercise) >At an average of 90 cows/hr (or 45 cows/man hr) >And being paid $30,000 per year >Each shift goes for about 4 hrs including set-up and clean-up. >For total working hours of 4 + 4 + 2 = 10 hrs/day (2.5 X)
Per day then, the milking team gets paid 2 x 10hrs x $12 = $240, for a total milker payroll of $87,600 per year for the average Midwest dairy with a milking parlor.
$87,400 x 5,000 dairies = $437,000,000 per year – only half of which were needed if these dairies milked in HerringBones with Arm TakeOffs.
That’s roughly $220,000,000 of unnecessary labor cost per year or $3,300,000,000 over the 15 years that one-man dbl. 20s have been in operation in other parts of the country. Let’s call it somewhere between $2,500,000,000 and $4,000,000,000.
The Herd Management Factor
Whether or not you should use Oxytocin is a matter of management philosophy. We have a customer, Mart Vanderstappen, Lake Geneva, WI, who strongly believes that the benefits of using Oxytocin equal or exceed the benefits of BST. Knowing Mart, I wouldn't doubt it.
If you do use Oxytocin, you know to inject very small doses, like 1/4 cc, directly into the milk vein for a response in less than 10 seconds. How would you do that in a Parallel?.
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Parallels have Significant Disadvantages. For example, there's...