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Robotic milkers calming for cows
September 29, 2014

Farmers who use robots to milk their cows have noticed a change in their dairy herd structure.

The hands-off, robotic technology allows the cow to choose when she wants to be milked.

The animals enter the machine, or the ‘robot’, it cleans the cow’s teat, attaches the milk cups, then begins milking.

The emerging technology isn’t yet widely used, largely because of the cost of the infrastructure.

Southern Queensland farmer Greg Dennis has installed four robots costing $200,000 each.

“Our cows don’t see people as a threat anymore,” he said.

“We don’t have herd mentality anymore.

“We see cows now moving as individuals, and they stick with a clusters of friends.

“It’s more comfortable for the cow to move as a smaller group than it used to be.

“They’re definitely more calm and relaxed in moving as a smaller group, at a slower pace, at a time that suits them.

Mr Dennis says milk production has increased 20 per cent.

“We are actually seeing our cows live longer now than they used to and have less injuries.”

Dairy Australia estimates there are 518 dairies in Queensland. Of those, just a handful employ use of robots.

The Scottish Dairy Cattle Association says five percent of Scotland’s 1,000 dairies use robotic systems.

Sally Williams milks Holsteins near Earlston in southern Scotland and says the robots in her dairy have revealed that cows aren’t necessarily herd animals.

“The difference in our cows is quite dramatic, in how they behave and how comfortable they are,” she said.

“Their welfare has been taken to a whole new level as a result of putting robots in.

“Cows are happy in groups of three, four or maybe five cows.

“They sit together in the same group morning, noon and night.”

Source: Rural



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