Working on a dairy farm

The basic work routine on a dairy farm stays the same 365 days of the year. The cows are milked twice a day. All the equipment and the parlour where the cows are milked must be washed down after each milking.

The length of time milking takes depends on the size of the herd and the number of cows that can be milked at the same time. In a modern milking parlour one person can milk 100 cows in an hour.

The day starts early, at about 5am when the cows gather for morning milking. The cows come in to the parlour to be milked in an orderly fashion.

First the udder must be wiped clean. Then the clusters of the milking machine are attached. These gently draw the milk from each teat, mimicking the sucking motion of a calf. A good dairy cow can give about 30 litres a day. The cows are given a feed in the parlour while they are being milked.

Most herds are kept in during the winter but in early spring the cows will start to go out to the fields by day, after morning milking. Until the nights are warmer, they go back into the shed after the afternoon milking.

The cows are housed either in a big open area with straw to lie on, or more commonly in cubicles, where each cow has her own space with sand or a rubber mattress to lie on.