Robotic Milking – What Is It?
The term robotic milking is simply what the name mentions (milking cows with robots). However, stop imagining it as you see it in the stock sci-fi films; robotic milking is done using small automated machines. They are quite similar to the milking machines you already know but with more technology and function.
How Popular Are Robotic Milking Systems?
Milking systems have been around ever since the early 90s. However, due to the growing technology, these systems have undergone a growth period with installations found across the world. In fact, about two per cent of dairy farms across the U.S. have now invested in robotic milking systems. In the Netherlands, the number is over thirty per cent, and it is the base for one of the major producers of robotic milking systems known as Lely. Over the coming years, Lely anticipates growth of between 10% to 15%.
How Do Robotic Milking Work?
It is important to note that there are diverse kinds of robotic milking systems. Generally, all these types apply the same process – the cow goes in a pen (as you know the cow will be driven by the desire to relieve the udder pressure and the food offered while milking). As the cow is entering the pen, an identification tag is scanned where all relevant data collected is used to determine when was the cow milked last, its udder shape, as well as the rate each teat dispenses milk.
Once this has been done, the robotic arms will begin by sanitizing and stimulating the teats. By doing this, the cow will allow milk to flow. Using laser technology, it will direct the milking suction tubes onto each teat, and the milking will begin. (If you wish to learn more about the process, you can do so here.)
How Will My Cow React To The Change?
You probably know that cows do not like changes. Furthermore, consistency is what gives cow comfort. This is why after some time (a period of readjustment), the cow will seem to be happier and calm with robotic milking. The cows can choose the time to be milked, and the process is the same every time.
What Does This Mean For My Milk Yield?
Any dairy farmer will tell you that a happy cow is far more likely to reach its maximum milking potential. This means higher profit for you. Furthermore, when a cow is milked when it is ready has been proven to increase production.
What Other Benefits Do I Get?
As mentioned, robotic milking systems come in different types. Some of the systems have included wearable technology that helps track all kinds of behavioural and health information of each cow. This gives farmers the power to monitor each cow’s food intake, step count, rumination, and more. A farmer can use the data provided to know when a cow is in heat. This helps improve the chances of healthy pregnancies.
On the other hand, you can access this information straight from your smartphone or laptop. As such, it is the easiest way to spot any irregularities that may suggest a cow is unwell or something is wrong, and action needs to be taken.
There is no doubt that milking is incredibly intensive labour. Furthermore, finding staff demands salary and other added costs. This can eat away your potential returns significantly. However, with a robotic milking system, you will not have to go through all the tiring processes of hiring qualified personnel or the labour that comes with milking. Let’s not forget the cost-effectiveness of it all.