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DIY Milk Parlor

With two cows due to calve in the next month it was time to do some renovating. Here is our DIY milk parlor.

Our Milking Parlor

Pretty much as soon as we moved to our farm I had dreams for a milking parlor. The last three seasons I have milked our cow with her simply tied to a strong beam in our barn. This has been doable, but this year we finally got around to making a DIY milk parlor.

Our lives have changed a lot since our first year on the farm. The most important being we now have a daughter who is a year and a half. Additionally, my husband has started a new job that has him away from home much more than before.

My toddler will very likely be coming down to the barn with me for milking time. She is that age where she can and will get into everything, but she doesn’t quite understand “no” yet.

The milking parlor is a safety necessity that will make it possible for my daughter to safely be down with me milking cows. No more loosey-goosey tied to a beam. Our cow will be secure and with a few more additions to the parlor, so will my daughter.

I typically don’t worry too much about my own safety with our dairy cows as they aren’t big kickers. Still, I am at the time of writing this about three months pregnant and it gives me ease of mind to have another barrier there to protect us just in case.

Why Build a Milking Parlor

If you have a small scale dairy, creating a designated space for milking your animals and handling milk is essential.

Physical Safety

Like I previously mentioned, having a cow contained is important for your safety as well as the safety of others. Juneberry, our main milk cow, is very well trained. Still, when she is cranky or there are bugs or she has a cut on a teat, she might swing her hind end around quickly or get stompy. With her contained in one space it reduces all those risks.

Milk Safety

Our barn has all sorts of dust and birds flying around. Keeping milk, especially raw milk, free from pathogens is essential. Our milking parlor is inside a stall that has a roof. This prevents any accidental bird bombs from dropping in and reduces the odds that other bits of stuff will get into the milk.

pouring milk rough and tumble farmhouse

Easier for Training Animals

I trained Juneberry to milk while she was just tied to a pole. That summer I had thighs of steel and reflexes like a cat. I could pop up and move away from her swinging hind end faster than she could move it. Now in this new stanchion she will have only a few inches on either side she can shuffle to.

If she decides she wants to kick, there will be a nice solid board there to meet her hoof.

Cleanliness

When I worked at a small grass based dairy, we used a pit parlor. This is where you are down in a trench and the cows are up above you, making their teats just higher than eye level. A poop dodging arrangement to be sure, but much easier on your back.

After the girls moved out the entire parlor was hosed down top to bottom. I wouldn’t eat of the floor, but it still got very clean twice each day.

My parlor isn’t quite complete yet, but when it is there will be rubber mats on the floors and white washable wall panels. Again, this goes back to keeping the milk and milking area as clean as possible.

Things to Keep In Mind when making a DIY Milk Parlor

We had to make a few adjustments as we went along with making our parlor. Here’s what we did and learned.

Use Sturdy Materials

We used 4x4s and lag bolts to secure the frameworks for the stanchion. We also used 2x4s to reinforce things like the tail gate.

Measure your Cow

We went out with a measuring tape to get an estimate on the size of our milk cows. Eventually, I actually went and got a cow and led her in to the stanchion so we could see how she would fit. We ended up re-doing the first part of our work to make the stanchion a little wider for her.

build a milk parlor rough and tumble farmhouse

Plan for the Cow’s Teat Position

This we didn’t think about until after the fact but thankfully it worked out fine. If you are building a stanchion like ours, you’ll want to consider where the cow’s teats will be before putting in your framework. We were kind of limited with where our beams could go, based on the roof already over the stall. Thankfully it worked out fine, but if we had a large cow then her teats would be right next to the upright beam and much harder to reach.

Use Space You Have for a DIY Milk Parlor

Rather than build a stanchion and milking parlor from scratch, I wanted to utilize a stall we already had. This stall has two main things going for it. One, most of it has a roof. This keeps birds away and a little heat in. We plan to roof the rest and and a layer of walls so in colder months I can safely run a little milk house heater.

Second, it is the perfect size to fit a stanchion, goat milk stand, and still have a play area for my daughter.

Heat in the Winter

Like I mentioned above, we chose to outfit a stall into a milking parlor because we can fairly easily and cheaply add a layer of wall to make a completely enclosed space for milking during the winter.

Water

Our parlor will get pooped and peed in, no question. Having a way for water to escape the milking area is very important.

Electricity

My milking parlor doesn’t yet have electricity except for an extension cord. Eventually it will be nice to have a switch on light and a place to plug in a fan or heater depending on the weather.

What’s Left to Finish in our DIY Milk Parlor

The milking parlor isn’t quite finished but we do have it functional for now at least. Here’s what we plan to add.

  • White washable wall paneling
  • Rubber Floor Mats
  • Outlet for a light, fan, and space heater
  • Play area for my daughter.

Interested in more dairy content? Check out cows and goats!

Watch and Learn

Here’s a tour of our milk parlor. Again, it is still very much in progress but at this point functional.

Pin it for Later

homestead milk parlor rough and tumble farmhouse

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