Dairy backing gate basics

17 March 2009

Backing gates are used in dairy yards to reduce the yard size as the number of waiting cows decreases during milking. To assist with cow flow backing gates must be well designed and used correctly.

CowTime’s David Klindworth has some tips on using backing gates successfully.


  • Ensure staff can control gates from the pit.
  • Set gate speed at 10-15 m per minute.
  • Take care to monitor an automatic advancing system.
  • Make sure audible alerts are not too loud (if used).


  • Use the backing gate to push cows forward. It mixes up the pecking order and disrupts cow flow into the dairy.
  • Use sirens or air horns. They are too loud and frighten the cows.
  • Use an electrified backing gate. They punish the less dominant cows and create fear.

"Backing gates are not essential for good cow flow into the dairy," says Darold. "Many farmers use less expensive options such as sweep gates or tape. However, when used with care, backing gates are effective at reducing yard size.

For more information refer to the CowTime Guidelines (Chapter 4, pp 76, 77), available at Technical Information 

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