These days, you’ll rarely find Carine and Flavien Arbez of France working side-by-side in their 85-cow dairy operation – and that’s a good thing. Today they’ve realized their goal of doing the work more quickly and without outside help, thanks to an investment in a new 2x8 GEA DairyParlor P7550. The decision has proved a perfect fit for them and their special herd.
With its rolling cultivated fields, dense pine forests and rampart-like mountains, the Jura region of eastern France is well known for its winter sports, precision industry, agriculture and dairy farming. The bulk of the milk produced here is used in the production of Comté – France’s most-produced cheese.
Carine and Flavien Arbez run a 85-cow dairy and calf rearing operation outside of Longchaumois, France. Their Montbéliarde herd produce 2,100 liters of raw milk each day which is used in the local production of Comté. This firm, non-pasteurized cheese is made exclusively from the raw milk of two breeds, including the red pied Montbéliarde, which thrives on the region’s pastures and is perfectly adapted to mountain climates.
Finding the silver lining in a personnel challenge
A personnel change at the Arbez operation in 2017 left the duo grappling with how they could continue to manage the workload on their own. They chose to build a new milking parlor and invest in a GEA DairyParlor P7550, which they saw in action during a farm tour in Germany organized by the European Dairy Farmers club. What won them over with the side-by-side parlor with vertical lift exit gate? For starters, the robust design, the quick exiting of the cows, the small surface area to be cleaned and the obvious time savings this would add up to. They also needed a parlor that allows them to do some tasks manually to meet strict Comté production standards.
In the past, the couple’s routine before both milking sessions began in the adjacent barn, cleaning the boxes, spreading the straw and then guiding the cows into the milking parlor. Today, a GEA CowMander crowd gate automatically guides the cows to the waiting area. This accelerated process means Flavien can make optimum use of his time alone in the cow barn: “With our large waiting area,” he explains, “I’m able to move the cows there and take care of the bedding and cleaning tasks in the barn while the milking takes place in the parlor. Being able to divide these tasks saves us a lot of time.”
Quick cow entry and exit
The cows move calmly and directly through the wide entrance connecting the waiting area and the milking parlor, comfortably lining up next to each other; the swiveling sequence gates provide lateral guidance. One after the other, they extend their necks through the front segments of the exit gate. Carine is pleased with the ease of operation and the superior access provided, which includes a good view of the udders when she attaches the GEA IQ Milking Cluster.
In the past, it took two people about 2.5 hours to milk all 80 plus cows. Now one of us can do the same task in around an hour.” - Carine Arbez, Arbez Dairy, Longchaumois, France
In one step, Carine is able to move to the other side of the 2x8 side-by-side parlor. It is a near effortless procedure made even easier given the quick handling and excellent ergonomics of the milking clusters. “Our new parlor gives us better synchronized cow entry thanks to the GEA crowd gate and we have much quicker attachment with the IQ milking clusters,” Carine explains. She uses the indexing function for the next group to adapt the milking stall length to smaller cows. At the push of a button, the anatomically designed front segments of the exit gate swing back and gently guide each cow into its ideal milking position. Opposite her, the cows are tranquilly ruminating. The GEA DemaTron milking control units automatically remove the milking clusters after milking, again at the push of a button. The exit gate lifts, making way for the cows to leave, which takes about five seconds.
Design that delivers absolute milk hygiene
When it comes to hygiene, the pulsators, electronic components and milking accessories are all well protected against dust and splashing thanks to a stainless steel covering. “This design is not only aesthetically appealing but more importantly, simplifies cleaning,” explains Flavien. In fact, in a matter of minutes, he is able to clean all of the milking clusters and walkways. The clean-in-place (CIP) milking cluster holders combined with thorough cleaning at regular intervals guarantees perfect milking parlor hygiene standards.
“We were looking for a robust, proven and reliable milking parlor that also provides the benefit of a rapid cow exit. Our GEA side-by-side parlor ticks all the boxes with its durable galvanized vertical exit gates and stainless steel cabinets,” says Flavien.
The best thing about our new GEA milking parlor is that each of us can now work on different tasks, simultaneously, which frees us up to do other things, which includes spending more of our free time together.” - Flavien Arbez, Arbez Dairy, Longchaumois, France
Flexibility par excellence
The GEA DairyParlor P7550 stands out not only given its lower cost compared to fully-automated systems and small footprint, but also because it offers operators important flexibility. Possible expansion, such as extending the stalls – up to 2 x 50 – as well as compatibility with GEA’s wide product range of milking clusters and control units, gives farmers more options as their business changes or grows.