How to Build a Barn Area for a Milking Cow

A simple milk parlor can be added to almost any existing barn.
A simple milk parlor can be added to almost any existing barn. (Image: cow image by michele goglio from

Milk production for sale to consumers is governed by many regulations regarding facilities, storage and handling. Building a barn area for milking one cow by hand, for family milk consumption, needn't be an overwhelming prospect. With a calf pen, milking stall and stanchion you can comfortably confine a cow with a calf in your barn in order to milk her safely. A simple, inexpensive wooden design is functional and easy to build.

Things You'll Need

  • 6 treated four-by-four posts, 10 feet long
  • 5 treated four-by-four posts, 8 feet long
  • Post hole digger
  • Circular saw
  • 30 bags concrete mix, each 60 lb.
  • 30 treated two-by-six boards, 8 feet long
  • Hammer
  • 1 box 16d common nails, 2 lb.
  • 1 gate, 4-foot, with gate hardware
  • 1 bolt, 4-inch, with nut and two washers
  • 6 feet of 1/2-inch polyester rope
  • Bucket
  • Bucket hanger
  • 1 gate, 3-foot, with gate hardware

Mark out an 8-by-16 foot area inside the barn. This will be divided into an 8-by-8 foot calf pen adjacent to an 8-by-3 foot milking stall, with an 8-by-5 foot storage area on the other side of the milking stall. The milking stall will stand between the calf pen and storage area.

Dig post holes in the floor and sink the 11, four-by-four posts on 4-foot centers around the perimeter of the milking stall and calf pen. Each 8-foot wall should have three posts, two on the ends and one in the center. The posts around the milking stall should stand 6 feet tall, while the remaining posts around the calf pen may be 4 feet tall. Set the posts in concrete.

Pour a concrete floor with a non-slip surface in the milking stall and storage area. The calf pen floor may be dirt or concrete.

Nail two-by-six boards, with 3-inch gaps or less, to a height of 4 feet around the calf pen; except for a 4-foot gap in what will be the front wall of the calf pen. Hang a nurse-proof, 4-foot gate across the gap. Nail more boards between the calf pen and milking stall, to reach a height of 5 feet.

Nail a two-by-six board between the two corner posts at the front of the milking stall, at 6 inches from ground level. The front of the milking stall will not be on the same side as the front of the calf pen; it will be on the opposite side. At 5 feet from ground level, at the front of the milking stall, nail boards on both the outside and inside of the corner posts, leaving a gap in between. Nail a 6-foot board vertically to the two cross pieces; 12 inches from, and parallel to, the corner post adjacent to the storage area. This will act as the fixed part of the stanchion, holding the cow's head when the movable part of the stanchion is closed.

Bolt a vertical board to the bottom crosspiece; 8 inches from, and parallel to, the previous board. The fixed part of the stanchion will be between the corner post and the bolted, vertical board. The board should pivot on the bolt and the top should protrude between the upper crosspieces. Nail scrap pieces of four-by-four between the upper crosspieces on either side of the pivoting board, to act as stops for the stanchion. This will prevent the stanchion from pressing too closely against the cow's head. Tie a rope to the top of the pivoting board, which can be pulled tight from the storage area and tied off to close the stanchion around the cow's head.

Nail two-by-six boards, with 3-inch gaps or less, to the side of the milking stall adjacent to the storage area. This will create a wall between the milking stall and storage area. Leave a 2-foot gap at udder height on the back half of the wall, to allow for milking.

Mount a 3-foot gate on the back of the milking stall. Hang a grain bucket or hay rack in front of the stanchion.

Tips & Warnings

  • Train the cow to walk in the stall voluntarily with grain. Allow her to get used to the stall for several days before closing the gate and attempting to milk her.
  • Raw milk may contain harmful bacteria. Always practice good hygiene when milking.

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