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Thread: Small Parlor BluePrints/PLans

  1. #1
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    Jun 2006
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    Tennessee
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    Default Small Parlor BluePrints/PLans

    Greetings ya'll. It has been a while since I've been on.

    In short let me just say that my family and I are pursuing the grade a micro dairy I've wanted for a while now. We have to apply for a loan and I'm looking at what the loan amount should be in order to set us up well (but not fancy).

    Since the micro dairy will have a max of 15 cows (I will only have about 40 acres in pasture on this side of the road and the acreage across is a hillside that I paln to use for raising calves) I think a 3 stall herringbone design will work fine for us.

    Anyone can share their building plans or blueprint? Is their an equipment checklist that I can find online? ANy other ideas to help me consider designing a suitable parlor and lay out?

    Thanks in advance,
    Marcia
    M Pimentel

  2. #2
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    Sep 2008
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    Lebanon, PA
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    I'm not sure what your after with the micro dairy. I assume your selling raw milk or other products. I don't see how it would pencil out with 15 cows. I just erased a reply I was typing up because it was too long. The bottom line was that it would cost way to much to build a parlor for just 15 cows. If housing was needed, waste storage, and feed storage the price could easily hit $7500 per cow. I seriously doubt that any banker will finance your loan unless you have everything penciled out.

    Also to comment on the parlor size. If you would only milk 3 cows at a time it would take you 5 rotations for 15 cows. At 10 minutes per rotation it could take you 50 minutes to milk and you would be standing around a lot. I feel that a tie stall setup would work best for you. No parlor construction costs, smaller sized housing barn needed, no manure storage needed.

    I don't mean to burst your bubble but those are some of my thoughts. Let me know if there is something I'm missing.

  3. #3
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    Jun 2006
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    Tennessee
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    Hi bmvf. Thank you for your candid reply. I doubt you are missing anything from your perspective.

    I am not trying to do anything the way it has been done by commercial dairies. I would like to market a premium, certified humane/natural, private label product and bring the view of success and failure down to sustainability and compassion. From off the farm sales including eggs and our own white cheese, to raising out our own calves, to milk delivery what I'm looking at has probably been done in the U.S. by now but I haven't been able to locate it yet.

    Living in Tennessee, I am not interested in raw sales. I looked at milk prices in the next county which has many commerical dairies and saw that what I propose would be a dismal failure financially at the generic level, so no coop in the future here. I do need to pencil numbers in for the farm credit service however so I ask:

    does anyone have blueprints or plans for a very small parlor? Thanks
    M Pimentel

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Bluecreek, WA
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    Default Micro-dairy

    Hello,
    I'm a long time reader of the forum...new member. I was intrigued by your post and felt compelled to reply. I too intend to start a small dairy and bottle my own pasteurized milk in Washington.
    I recommend North Dakota State University Plans web page, http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/abeng/plans/index.htm . They have a lot of dairy plans from the 1930's through the 1980's when most dairies were smaller then today. Most of the older plans are designed so the farmer could 'build it themselves'.
    As for milking, regardless of type parlor we go with, we will probably go with bucket milking. I think the extra labor involved is reasonable given the small herd and reduces overhead. One parlor type we have looked at is the step-up, walk-through parlor. While not as comfortable as a raised parlor, it isn't as bad as a pure flat parlor or tie stall.
    There is definitely a place for a small dairy to be successful if they offer a value added product. Value added is the key. Here in Washington, there are numerous small dairies who bottle their own milk (raw and pasteurized) and are very successful. Here is a link to a video I made about a local micro-dairy who bottles their own milk. At the time of the video, they were milking 14 cows. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvszhsJWmAU . Their creamery is a converted 2-car garage. I wish you the best of luck!

  5. #5
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    Tennessee
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    Welcome WaMoo thank you for replying and for the links. I've spent 7 hours online today just reading through information (very slow dial-up in these rural parts so some of that time was spent waiting on info to load). From my readings, I also am considering a bucket milker at present. I want to keep the cost low and haven't been able to price any milking systems at all since I started research. I imagine they are very expensive. Realizing also I may have to start with half the cows and grow from them, which suits me well since I am quite involved with my cows. Lets keep in touch and help each other when we can.
    M Pimentel

  6. #6
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    Jul 2006
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    Kansas
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    Some pertinent information:
    http://cdp.wisc.edu/pdf/Remodeled%20Parlors.pdf

    You may also enjoy reading about this operating farm we have personally visited:
    http://www.jakoinc.com/

  7. #7
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    Oct 2006
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    Construction costs for a dbl 2 or single 3 walk through would be peanuts compared to anything else,simply because they don't cover that much area.As for the cost of the pipeline system,don't bother with it to start with. Use your bucket milkers,just put longer hoses on them.No reason what you're proposing couldn't be profitable,just don't come at it with the high-dollar-big investment mentality that most of the dairy industry has. What ever situation you're looking at,always ask yourself,"Is there a cheaper way to do this?"

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ekk View Post
    Construction costs for a dbl 2 or single 3 walk through would be peanuts compared to anything else,simply because they don't cover that much area.As for the cost of the pipeline system,don't bother with it to start with. Use your bucket milkers,just put longer hoses on them.No reason what you're proposing couldn't be profitable,just don't come at it with the high-dollar-big investment mentality that most of the dairy industry has. What ever situation you're looking at,always ask yourself,"Is there a cheaper way to do this?"
    Listen to EKK.
    "... a dbl 2 or single 3..." would be good plenty to milk 15 cows.

    *note that the blueprints contained in the wisc educ. link I have provided can be chopped down to one or two stalls on each side, or one could build one side of it only in a single 3 or 4 stall fashion.... see figures 2,3,4,&5.
    Last edited by FayeFarms; 12-03-2008 at 08:11 AM.

  9. #9
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    Jun 2006
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    Tennessee
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    Thanks FF. The Jako Family website is great. They are much more diversified than what I have in mind but I see that a micro concept does work as a new model. I also found Rockhill Creamery yesterday. With six Brown Swiss they seem to be doing quite well.

    Thanks ekk. Your encouraging words came at just the right time.
    M Pimentel

  10. #10
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    Nov 2006
    Location
    Middle TN
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    I can't imagine that a bucket system would be any cheaper than a pipeline for that sized barn. That is if you don't already have the buckets. Around here(TN) the buckets at farm sales will bring $40 plus much more on a good day without any milker or lid. Pipelines are cheap if you look around, good used pulsators are out there, CIP set-ups are cheap accordingly. A 1-1/2 of 2" pipeline shouldn't be that hard to find. The cost of the parlor will likely be a small part of the cost if you are putting in any type of processing equipment.

    Why not build a flat-barn or stantion parlor? Maybe not the most operator friendly, but alot cheaper to build than a platform parlor. Most of the old grade B barns around here used wooden head-locks, but I bet a good fab shop could build something out of steel fairly easy. Also a flat parlor could be used for other purposes if you ever quit milking. Some of the old Grade A flat barns were six or eight cows on either side with feeders in front, and 3 or4 milking units per side. For only 15-20 cows, I would think that a row of 4 locks with a 2 unit pipeline would work great. Total dimensions of the parlor could likely be about 12-14'x16' or there abouts. Hope this helps.

    Jared in TN

  11. #11
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    Tennessee
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    Hi Jared,
    I'm also in middle Tennessee, by the AL border.

    Good ideas and thanks for the dimensions. You bring a good point with the flat barn being used for other purposes if I quit milking or sell the farm which are reasonable considering I'm starting at 44. But starting at 44 is one reason I was looking at a parlor with a pit, to save on back strain.
    M Pimentel

  12. #12
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    Nov 2007
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    PA
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    Would a parlor cost peanuts? I priced around earlier this year and parlors came in at $55 a square foot. That price was mostly the same no matter what design I gave. A cow takes up 15 ft sq so that would be at least 45 sq ft for cows. With a 4' x 10 operator pit and maybe a 10 x10 room to store milk, a parlor with 3 stalls would be 185 ft square. At $55 per foot the cost would be over $10,000 or $675 per cow. To compare my design was a 25 x 34 swing parlor with a 12 x 10 milkhouse (tank thru wall). At 970 ft square the cost was $53350, for 105 cows costs were $508 per cow. Thats why the dairy industry has a high-dollar-big investment mentality.

    You can get cheaper equipment and go the cheap route but beware. At 44 you don't want to 'screw' around and waste time repairing or working with slow equipment while you should be caring for cattle and selling a product.

    However, I feel you can make it with 15 cows if you have a value added product. I visited a farm in Easton, PA last winter. They said yogurt was the most profitable. It calculated to (if I recall correctly) almost $100 per hundred weight milk! Good Luck!

  13. #13
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    Hey Matt,
    That farm in Easton is near me (good friends of mine), we also sell yogurt, cheese and raw milk at our farm. Yogurt has an approx retail price of 16.00/gallon- so ~ 180.00/cwt is a closer figure. Yogurt is very easy to make as well so it is a great fit for a small farm focused on value added processing.
    John

  14. #14
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    Dec 2008
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    Bluecreek, WA
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    Default Small Milking Parlor

    Zamis,
    Hello again! I've attached a link to a farm with, as far as I know, the smallest raised milking parlor I've ever seen. Just for 2 cows. I'm not sure how it works for them, but by their website, they seem pretty proud of it. From their main page, click on the link 'dairy' and then 'facilities'. I think their operation is smaller then what you want to do, but it might give you some ideas.

    http://www.meadowwoodorganics.com/

    Hope this helps!

    Cheers,
    WaMoo

  15. #15
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    Jan 2007
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    TO be economical just put in a flat parlor with a row of headlocks, and a pipeline. Do not go with buckets, as it will be probably more expensive and slower in the long run. They are harder on you , the cow, keep clean, and repair/parts. Thirty foot of 2" stainless steel line, three units, vaccum pump could easliy be had for 500 -1000 with some legwork ( used).

  16. #16
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    Aug 2007
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    I've put a lot of flat barn walk throughs in existing buildings. Cheap. Easy to use and once the cows learn they can milk cows fast.
    You can get by with an extra 10 inches of concrete for the stalls, but I have seen them built at almost 18". Doesn't seem like much but with the built in stool on the Universal stalls it's quite comfortable to operate. Had a double 8 put in on a family farm and Ma came out of retirement to milk again with the new system.
    If you can find used Agro-Matic or Universal equipment use it. Heavy duty. And the walk through is so much easier than just having headlocks and getting the girls to back out when they're done.
    I would suggest having a unit for each stall. We had a place put in a double 8 and try swinging the units between adjacent stalls. Within a month we sold them 8 more units. Too slow with the swing.
    Check your state laws. In WI you cannot be grade A with 1 1/2" pipeline any longer. It was grandfathered for years but according to the inspector that shut down my buddies overflow barn, it is not allowed as pipeline.
    2" was plentiful, with scrap prices where they were last summer I don't know anymore.
    Floor buckets and a step-saver would be a way to get started, you'll need the vacuum line anyway for the pulsators on the pipeline. Buckets can be cheap. But I've seen em go for over 200 bucks a pop when the Amish want them.

  17. #17
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    Tennessee
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    Haven't been able to check in recently but thank you for keeping the ideas coming in. The yogurt posts are a huge bell ringing for me, thank you. As fate has it sometimes, part of the family that would help me with the loan has gotten cold feet due to the economy faltering worldwide. It has been a little blue for me this Christmas.

    The 2 cow parlor is awesome, I don't care how many rotations I'd have to go through, most important is a very low start up cost. If the idea works I can upgrade properly with cash and a loan on my own. I can get the Jerseys with a loan, farm credit bureau would just use them as collateral. All I need to look at are building cost, processing/handling equip. cost (which is huge), and the market.
    M Pimentel

  18. #18
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    Dec 2009
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    Northern Nevada
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    Thanks for the link. Very interesting.

    CC


    Quote Originally Posted by WaMoo View Post
    Zamis,
    Hello again! I've attached a link to a farm with, as far as I know, the smallest raised milking parlor I've ever seen. Just for 2 cows. I'm not sure how it works for them, but by their website, they seem pretty proud of it. From their main page, click on the link 'dairy' and then 'facilities'. I think their operation is smaller then what you want to do, but it might give you some ideas.

    http://www.meadowwoodorganics.com/

    Hope this helps!

    Cheers,
    WaMoo

  19. #19

    Default

    Marcia,
    One way to make a very small parlor is to use an old box trailer backed up to a bank and cut out one side. The cows come in as a herring bone, then release the front bar and they go back the way they came in. Use rubber mats on the floor.
    Then you can use bucket milker or a vacuum bulk tank (zero used to make them) and just use the claws.
    An 28 foot truck will hold 8 cows.

  20. #20
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    SE Ohio
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    Interesting. We are in SE Ohio and looking to start milking. 20-25 Cows. I work every third day (off farm--benefits, retirment..etc). But we want to seasonal milk-- grazing and hopefully sell to a local creamery. (Snowville Creamery-- http://www.snowvillecreamery.com/ ) With little overhead $, we should be able to turn a buck. Thanks.

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