Robotic dairy will revolutionise milk production


The world’s first robotic rotary dairy, which maximises milk production while minimising labour, was unveiled in New South Wales last week.

The robotic rotary dairy was designed for pasture-based farming systems and larger herd sizes.

Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig officially opened the dairy at the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute at Menangle, south of Sydney, on Friday.

Primary Industries Minister Steve Whan said the robotic rotary dairy launch was the beginning of a revolution in Australia’s dairy industry.

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“The NSW government has invested $1 million in the FutureDairy research program over the past three years, and it’s great to see that investment become the prototype robotic rotary, ” Mr Whan said.

“Labour is one of the biggest challenges facing dairy farmers today, and it’s an issue that will be addressed by this new technology.”

Mr Whan said bringing a project of this magnitude from concept to commercialisation in just three years was a major achievement for everyone involved in the FutureDairy project. “I congratulate Industry & Investment NSW, Sydney University, Dairy Australia and DeLaval on their achievement, ” he said.

This week, a commercial version of the robotic rotary dairy, the DeLaval AMR, was launched in Germany at the EuroTier 2010 exhibition where it was awarded the EuroTier 2010 Gold Medal for innovation.

According to DeLaval, its automatic milking rotary will boost on-farm profitability, because the system allows farmers to reduce milking labour or shift those workers to perform more stimulating tasks.

DeLaval claims milk harvesting costs will be lower using the DeLaval AMR, since it allows more milk to be harvested per hour and the milk is of a better quality.

DeLaval capital goods vice-president Andrew Turner said the DeLaval AMR would suit herds exceeding 300 cows with the first commercial rotaries having a 90 cow per hour capacity, using up to five robots to simultaneously operate the system.

“Dairy farmers have been asking for an automatic milking rotary for a long time. We developed the DeLaval AMR with three key customer benefits in mind: profitability, farm management and flexibility, ” Mr Turner said.

The system will be operated by two robots for teat preparation and another two robots for milking cup attachment, with the four robots working on four cows at the same time.

In addition, a fifth robot will handle teat disinfection after milking has finished. This function is fully automatic and sprays each teat independently using a state-of-the-art time of flight camera that sees the teats and locates them in real time in 3D.

Cows access the system in the same way as they do in a traditional rotary.

Once on the platform, the cow is taken to the teat preparation position.

The entrance gate includes electronic ID, so the cow’s teat positions are pre-stored for the robots to use and the camera to locate. Teats are washed, stimulated, dried and prepared just like in the DeLaval voluntary milking system.

The next step is the teat cup attachment and, after that, the cow moves on until the exit bail position where a last robot sprays her before she is released.

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