To get the milk out of the cows, they go to the farm dairy shed where they are milked. There are different types of dairy sheds, the herringbone and rotary style milking sheds are the two most commonly used all around the world today.
The herringbone shed was developed by Ron Sharp, a farmer from the Waikato in 1952; and then in 1969 Merv Hicks from Taranaki gave the dairy industry the rotary shed – which shows how clever New Zealand dairy farmers are.
These are kind of shaped like a fish bone and cows line up on either side, where the bones would branch out from the spine. The farmer stands in a sunken pit in the middle - just like the type of pit a mechanic works from. The farmer puts the milking cups on the cow teats from the pit and it's just the right height so he can reach easily without having to bend down. A herringbone shed can milk up to around 600 cows with only two people!
I found this really cool animation of how a herringbone shed works, just click here to watch.
A rotary shed is like a giant record player. It’s basically a large circle, with milking stalls going right around, which the cows stand in while being milked.
The circle slowly moves around at a speed slow enough that the cows are finished milking once it completes one full rotation. When the circle has finished each rotation the cows that have been milked walk out and the next lot come into the stalls. The farmer stands in a pit on the outside of the circle, so it’s easy to wash the udders and put on the cups. Rotary milking sheds are great for large herds and they can milk over 1,000 cows per milking.
If you'd like to see how a rotary shed works, just click here.
A robotic shed is where robots put the cups on the cows instead of the farmer! The cows go into the robotic stalls when they want to be milked and the robot does the rest! It washes the teats first, puts the cups on, milks the cow and then lets her out once she is finished. There are not a lot of these in New Zealand as they are quite expensive, but in Europe they are becoming quite common as robots are more suited to their farming systems.
I've even got a moovie all about robotic milking, click here and learn moore.