It is the milking of cows with robots. However, it is nothing related to the sci-fi stuff you see in the movies. You will not find robots running about a milking parlour; instead, it is an automated machine like the milking machinery you are familiar with that does the job.
How Popular Is It?
Robotic milking is a technology that was around at the turn of the millennium. The systems have been available since the early nineties and have evolved further to become reliable installations that dairy farms across the world embrace for their growth and success.
Robotic milking is evident in the United States, with around 2% of dairy farms using the systems. That number is an impressive 15 times more in the Netherlands. For instance, Lely is one of the leading manufactures of robotic milking systems in the Netherlands that projects a 10% to 15% growth within the next decade.
How Does Robotic Milking Work?
While you might find different robotic milking systems, they run on the same principles. A cow walks into a small pen driven by the urge to ease the pressure in its udder while also enjoying some food when being milked. Once it enters the enclosure, its ID tag is scanned. The tag is a form inventory tool used to tell when the cow was last milked, the shape of the animal’s udder, and each of its teat’s milk dispensation rates.
The system has arms that sanitize and stimulate each teat to encourage the cow to release the milk. Next, laser-guided suction tubes attach to each eat to start the milking process. (Click here to learn more about this process).
Cows Seem Unperturbed
Cows detest change, and they are more at home with a consistent routine. Hence, most dairy farms will strive to create consistency when setting up robotic milking systems. Therefore, the animals will be calmer and happier with the robotic milking after some readjustments to what they consider the norm. Famers can pick when to milk their cows and use the same routine devoid of frenzied herding; therein no worries or stress.
It Translates To Better Milk Yields
The happier the cows, the higher the chances of them reaching maximum milking potential. That means you will enjoy better profits. You can have a system in which the cows will get milked whenever they wish. It is a set-up that has seen farms like Stensland in Iowa register a growth in their milking rate from two per day to three, which resulted in milk production of 8%.
Collect Data On Your Herd’s Health
Since the birth of robotic milking systems, technological advancements have led to the development of different types. Some of them have wearable tech designed to track the cows’ health and behavioural metrics. Think of it as Fitbit but for cows. It means you can use the robotic milking system to also track each animal’s food intake, rumination, step count, and more. You can use the data to monitor the cows’ reproductivity, know when it is in heat and improve the odds of having healthy pregnancies. You can access such information via a data portal accessible using your computer, laptop, or smartphone. As such, you can discover any anomalies and address them before things worsen.
Enjoy Some Rest
Going through a herd when milking them manually can be arduous, especially if you are short on staff. However, having some helping hands in the parlour does make things somewhat less demanding. But finding the staff is also another challenge. Robotic milking systems offer a viable solution to the problem. You can run things yourself, which means reduced labour costs and more time to address other business concerns and enjoy some downtime.