This week’s Buildings Focus saw Agriland make the trip to Co. Tipperary to speak to brothers Brian and Brendan Larkin about their new 30-bail rotary parlour.

The duo, who are in partnership together, milked 145 cows last year and this year plan to milk 160 in their new facilities.

The new parlour is quite the upgrade on the last, a sturdy facility which the farm’s rising cow numbers managed to outgrow.

At the the end of it’s tenure, the old 7-unit herringbone milking parlour saw 21 rows of cows enter twice a day. This meant an early milking time of close to three hours and almost two and a half hours in the evening.

At a stage where they felt it was time to upgrade, in 2021, the Larkin brothers got cracking on what they have today, and finally began milking in the new rotary at the start of March this year.

L:R: Brian and Brendan Larkin

Speaking to Agriland inside their new milking facilities during the week, Brian said: “We had come to a stage where we needed to move out of the old parlour.

“The time it was taking to milk cows, it left little time to anything else that needed to be done on the farm, with the guts of six hours gone a day milking cows alone.

“We had a number of cows in our head that we felt comfortable with. We never and didn’t want to go mad increasing cow numbers and so decided on looking for a parlour that worked for us and the number of cows we had.

“We wanted a parlour that would obviously cut our labour demands but that we felt would be durable and at the end of day, enjoyable to milk in.”

Brian previously worked on a farm in Australia with a 50-point rotary parlour, and took a liking to it. He said that he and his brother looked at herringbone parlours but ultimately felt more drawn to the rotary.

“From visiting other farms and getting the advice of farmers, we landed on a 30-bail rotary that, so far, works well for the number of cows we have.”

Layout of the parlour, handling facilities and collecting yard

The new rotary parlour was built on a greenfield site beside the old milking facility. This resulted in a sacrifice on the Larkins’ part, as they lost what was once part of a nearby paddock.

The size of the shed needed to house the rotary itself is surprisingly small and yet still there is quite a bit of space at the sides and each of the four corners to work with.

Construction on the site began last July (2021) but it was a stop start process and it was a very hectic January and February for Brian and Brendan to get the the job finished for cows to be able to come in and be milked by the start of March.

The brothers did nearly all the work themselves, except for the shuttered walls – which were stood by Jamie McEvoy – around the entire building. Brian studied architectural design so he was able to draw up exactly what he and his brother wanted.

They then proceeded to getting the site ready before completing all the concrete work including building the concrete platform for the rotary along with the collecting yard and handling area. They sourced the frame of the shed locally and erected it themselves.

Design source: Waikato Milking Systems

Looking at the dimensions of the shed, it measures 15m wide and 17m long. The shed enclosing the rotary measure 15m wide and 12m long, with the bulk tank room room measuring 8m long and 5m wide.

The radius of the rotary measures 4.3m. At each of the four corners of the shed, a plant/electrical room, washing area, office and AI platform area can be found.

Looking to the rear of the build a collecting yard and handling and drafting area can be found.

The collecting yard measures 24m long and 14m wide. While the handling and drafting area measures 24m long and 6m wide. A slatted tank can be found at the end of the yard and measures 4.8m wide and 20m long.

Design source: Waikato Milking Systems

The 30-bail rotary

Taking a look at the rotary itself, the Larkin brothers opted to go with a 30-bail Waikato Orbit rotary parlour which was installed by Murphy Dairy Services.

The entry level rotary is equipped with automatic cluster removers, on-deck teat spray, cow retention straps along with a plant wash and a wash and rotate landing – which helps to speed up the washing in order to get in and out of the parlour faster.

Speaking about the 30-bail rotary parlour, Brian said: “I always loved the rotary parlours but when I came home we didn’t have the cow numbers to justify putting one in.

“Until then we moved to the farm we are in now, which is my wife’s home farm, we were able to push cow numbers on and start thinking about upgrading the milking facilities that were already here and the idea of having a rotary to milk our cows became an option.

“We went to see a 32-bail rotary actually and from speaking to the farmer, he said to us that a 30-bail rotary would be perfect for the number of cows we wanted to milk.

“We went with an entry-level machine that has everything we wanted.

“Currently, in the mornings, it’s taking us just under an hour to milk 130 cows and about 50 minutes in the evening.

And by the time we have the full complement of 160 cows going through it, I’d say an hour and fifteen minutes will get us through, including washing up.

Brian said the set up is simple and has made life significantly easier for him and his brother as well as the relief milker that also works on the farm. “It’s a joy to milk in,” he said

“We also looked at herringbone parlours but we would have been looking at installing a 24-unit herringbone parlour with a 60ft long pit and there would be a lot of walking up and down involved whereas, with the rotary, cows are coming to you, you don’t have to move and it’s just easier really.

“I’m 36 years of age now, in 20 years time, this rotary will still be easy to milk in and that came into our thinking, not just looking ahead short term but also long term.”

The handling and drafting area

The Larkins installed a drafting system that will come into use in May (2022), when breeding kicks off.

Cows that are drafted will be diverted into a large grooved holding pen, which is beside a standard crush at the other side of this area. At the opposite side of the crush and between the exterior wall is a raised walkway for the Larkins to handle their cows at ease for any jobs they may be carrying out.

At the end of this drafting and handling area is a slatted tank which also runs across the collecting yard.

Collecting yard

A sizeable grooved collecting yard was built to hold up to 200 cows. The Larkins hope to milk 160 cows through the 30-bail rotary and said they are happy at that number, as they are stocked at 4/cows/ha as it is.

The brothers said that they wanted to be prepared for a potential increase in cow numbers in the future, so they made the collecting yard big enough to hold an extra 40 cows on top of what they have currently

The collecting yard, similar to the handling and drafting area is served with a slatted tank at the entrance to the collecting yard to collect any dung and washings from the parlours.

A 3-bar gate with a wheel attached, located half way up the collecting yard, which can fold over to the other side of the yard was installed to keep cows pushed up close to the parlour as number start to get smaller as milking progresses.


The Larkins were able to avail of the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS II) which enabled them to draw down a grant of 60%.

This along with reclaiming the VAT on top of completing the majority of the building work themselves, leaves the cost of the project standing at €240,000.

Speaking about the decision to go ahead and put in the rotary, Brian and Brendan said: “We are delighted we bit the bullet and went for it.

“It has cut our milking time hugely and it’s just a joy to milk in. It gives us great flexibility and options.

“It has now given us more time to go and do other jobs around the farm and allows us to crack on improve on what we are doing here.”