Having good cow flow can save a lot of time on farms, and therefore may also increase efficiencies, and it also contributes to overall cow comfort.

Cow flow can be impacted by a number of factors, two of which are discussed below

Cow flow

An area where the greatest impact of poor cow flow can be seen is around the milking parlour. Cows need sufficient space to move around, in order to maintain social order.

To assist with cow flow, there should be no steps or sharp inclines at the parlour’s exit or entrance.

Light is also very important in a milking parlour; there should be as much natural light in the parlour as possible.

This is also important at the exit of the parlour, as it will help cows to exit quicker.

There should be plenty of space at the front of the parlour too, so that cows are not forced to take a sharp turn. This will also help with lameness issues in cows.

Backing gates work well, but should not be used to force cows forward; they should be used to close the space. However, it is important to leave enough space for cows to continue to move within the yard.


To maximise cow flow on a roadway a number of things need to be right, including the width of the roadway.

For a herd with 150 cows or less, a roadway width of 4.5m is adequate; an additional 0.5m is needed for every 100 extra.

If your herd has significantly increased in numbers in recent years, but your roadway width hasn’t changed, this may be hindering flow.

The surface on top of the roadway is also very important. Ideally, cows will use the entire width of the roadway and not just a small path.

With that in mind, it is recommended that 50-75mm of fine material be used on the surface of the roadway.

Some small improvements made in these areas can increase cow flow and therefore efficiency on farms.