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Which Milking Parlor is Best for Your Dairy Farm?

If you are building or expanding a dairy farm, you will need to decide which kind of milking parlor to use. There are several design options that each has its benefit. The choice depends on the size of the herd, the available labour at the farm, and personal preference.  This is very important information for building a new dairy farm.

Parallel Milking Parlor

Parallel parlors, also called side-by-side parlors, have cows stand next to each other in parallel lines. The cows will be side-to-side, facing away from a central aisle. This design leaves the rear of the cows open for milking. With a parallel configuration, all cows should be brought into their stalls before starting milking. Then a milker can move quickly down the line. Most parallel milking parlors feature a quick-release design, so all of the cows can be released at once when milking is finished. Parallel parlors use space efficiently and work well for large herds.


Just like the popular fabric design, herringbone parlors feature stalls lined up at a 45-degree angle. The cows enter in small groups and stand side-by-side. Unlike a parallel milking parlor, a herringbone parlor allows the milker to access the cows’ udders from the side. Herringbone designs make it easy to see each individual cow and are known to minimize stress. Herringbone milking parlors are the most popular on smaller dairy farms.

Rotary Milking Parlor

A rotary parlor works a little like a carousel.  Cows enter stalls one at a time while a circular platform rotates slowly. The milker can remain in one place as the cows rotate to attach and detach the milking equipment. Cows can leave as soon as they are finished milking as more cows are brought in. This makes it easy for large dairy farms to move through a lot of cows continuously.

Tandem Milking Parlor

Tandem milking parlors place cows in individual stalls in a row, standing nose-to-tail. In this setup, cows are placed in their own stalls in a nose-to-tail arrangement. Each stall opens individually at the side, meaning that cows enter and exit one at a time. This design allows for easy access to the udder from the side and gives you a clear view of each animal. It’s a good fit for small herds and even for buffalo milking. The one-at-a-time entry and exit of cows provide flexibility. You can keep slower cows in a bit longer without holding up the rest of the herd.

Each stall opens individually at the side, meaning that cows enter and exit one at a time. This process can take a little more time, but it allows more flexibility; milkers can leave slower cows in for longer without holding up the rest of the herd. Tandem milking parlors allow udder access from the side and provide excellent visibility over each individual cow.

if you’re looking for a system that balances individual care with operational efficiency, tandem milking parlors are a solid choice.

Robotic Milking System

The remaining big decision for dairy farms is whether to use automatic milking systems, also called robotic milking systems. These machines clean the cow’s udders, attach the milking equipment, and complete the milking. These systems can be an immense help to low on labour farms, and they can increase milking frequency. However, they require cows to be housed in a barn alongside the milking unit rather than grazing outdoors. There are also concerns about whether automated systems can clean cows’ udders as effectively as human workers. Among the main robot milking system suppliers, you will find Gea Delaval and other companies as well.

Choosing the Right Milking Parlor – The Israeli Approach:

In Israel, dairy farming isn’t just about tradition; it’s about maximizing efficiency and ensuring the best herd health. The choice of a milking parlor plays a pivotal role. Whether you’re managing a vast herd or a smaller group, the design and functionality of your milking system can make all the difference. At the Israeli Dairy School, we break down the pros and cons of each parlor type, from the space-saving parallel designs to the individualized attention of tandem systems. We also delve into the latest in robotic milking innovations, offering insights into automation’s practical benefits. Equip yourself with the knowledge to make informed decisions for your farm, drawing from Israel’s rich dairy farming legacy.

Join us, and optimize your milking process for better yields and happier cows!

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