Article Summary: Do you have machine milking in place, or do you have a manual milking system? How is that going for you? If you’re starting to question your efforts and weigh up the investment of a robotic milking system, then let this guide be your first reference point. From the pros and cons of robotic versus manual milking to the most common robotic milkers in circulation throughout Australia and New Zealand, we’ll show you how electronic milking technology can support you in your milk production efforts.
As dairy farming continues to evolve, the popularity of robotic milking systems has also skyrocketed. These systems offer a multitude of advantages over traditional hand-milking methods. They are widely used in Australia and New Zealand by farmers who aim to reduce labour costs, enhance milk production and improve cow comfort. While no reportable stats are available, we bet you’ve seen them in operation and even worked with a few in your time.
Do you have machine milking in place, or do you have a manual milking system? How is that going for you? If you’re starting to question your efforts and weigh up the investment of a robotic milking system, then let this guide be your first reference point.
First, we’ll take a look at robotic versus manual milking to see whether you’re getting the most out of your current system. Then, we’ll review the most common robotic milkers in circulation throughout Australia and New Zealand while showing you how Pasture.io’s AI technology can support you in your milk production efforts.
Robotic milking systems vs manual milking: pros & cons
Let’s first look at the main advantages of both systems. The major pros of machine milking include:
Reduced labour costs, as the milking process is automated, freeing up time for other tasks.
Improved milk production, as you can milk each cow at the optimal time.
Improved cow comfort, reducing the stress associated with manual milking.
On the other hand, manual milking can:
Be less expensive to implement and maintain compared to machine milking systems.
Offer a more personal approach, allowing the farmer to have a closer relationship with each cow and monitor their health more closely.
When it comes to financial investment, machine milking systems can be the most expensive to purchase, implement and maintain. But they can also offer huge cost savings over the long term. How? By reducing labour costs and improving milk production—the very things that affect your bottom line. However, manual milking can also be a perfectly suitable and cost-effective option for smaller dairy operations with limited resources.
Animal welfare is an important factor to consider when choosing between machine and manual milking systems. Both systems can improve cow comfort, but manual milking offers a more personal approach, allowing you to have a closer relationship with each cow and monitor their health more closely. This, in turn, can positively affect milk production.
Ironically, that is exactly what robotic milking is designed to do—maximise milk yield, but without the physical demands. Machine milking systems can offer advantages over manual milking, as each cow can be milked at the optimal time, leading to improved milk production.
Your decision between machine and manual milking systems will depend on several factors, including the size of your operation, available resources, the condition of your herd and your financial situation.
The most common robotic milking systems in use across Australia & New Zealand
Okay, so you’ve made it this far and are really considering automating your milking systems. Go you! Next, let’s look at the most coming robotic milking systems used on farms in the Southern Hemisphere. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and you’ve probably seen these in action on neighbouring farms. If any of these options are something you’d like to delve into further, we recommend you contact the company directly for a demo as well as your local dairy body.
The Lely Astronaut
This is one of the most common robotic milking systems in use. This system features a computerised monitoring system that tracks each cow's milk production, feed intake, and health data. This is all while its mechanical arm milks the cow, and a feed system provides a tasty treat as a reward.
DeLaval VMS V300
For larger dairy operations, the DeLaval VMS V300 is the perfect solution. This system boasts multiple milking stations that allow for simultaneous milking, as well as an automatic feeding system and an advanced computerised system that provides in-depth information on each cow's health and milk production.
GEA Farm Technologies robotic milking system
When it comes to compact and efficient systems, the GEA Farm Technologies robotic milking system is the ideal choice for smaller dairy operations. This system features a single milking station, a computerised monitoring system that provides data on each cow's health and milk production, and an automatic feed dispenser.
The Fullwood Packo system
This system, designed for larger dairy operations, has multiple milking stations and a highly advanced computerised system that gives detailed information on each cow's health and milk production. It also features a feed dispenser and automatic milking system to ensure efficient and effective milking.
Regardless of the type of robotic milking system utilised, these machines offer many benefits over traditional hand-milking methods. Automating the milking process reduces the time and labour required from you and your team and frees up time for other tasks. These systems can also significantly improve milk production by milking each cow at the optimal time and even reducing the stress associated with manual milking, improving cow comfort.
Making the switch to robotic milking requires research, investment & support
The increasing popularity of automated milking systems in Australia and New Zealand is due to their numerous advantages. Whether it's enhancing milk production, reducing labour costs, or improving cow comfort, these machines are revolutionising the dairy industry and making dairy farming more efficient and profitable.
Our advice? When used in conjunction with a dedicated AI farm management platform, like Pasture.io, you’ll find that automating your systems and management processes will transform the way you farm. It’s a platform that automates your pasture readings, with zero labour requirements to set up and instant daily readings to enable you to record and plan your farming with precision.
Making decisions that are right for your operation will save you time, money and lost opportunities. In short, informed grazing and milking decisions equal a greater farm profit.
Machine milking and manual milking systems both have pros and cons, and if you’re thinking of making the switch, you’ll need to carefully consider a number of factors when deciding which system to use.
Keep this blog handy and add it to your bookmarks bar as a reference guide. And if you’d like to learn more about Pasture.io’s satellite, animal tracking and machine learning decision support, contact us today and chat with our friendly team of experts.
- The Dedicated Team of Pasture.io, 2023-02-07